Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What a wonderful world Seher Shah

Scaramouche Gallery presents a fascinating collection of drawings, prints, and photographs by the internationally acclaimed artist Seher Shah. Seher’s solo show displays her ardent exploration into architectural engineering and cultural designs associated with geometry, linear perspective, and iconic patterning, all of which attribute to a cohesive series of picturesque architectural landscapes.

A majority of Shah’s prints and drawings, contain a singular black quadrilateral that repetitively bisects her compositions. Shah’s largest graphite drawing on display measuring seventy- two inches by one hundred and six exemplifies the artist’s adeptness at creating juxtaposing harmonies. Object Relic (2011) portrays a vast architectural landscape composed of tightly detailed patterning that recedes endlessly into space. Intersecting its’ form is a penetrative black quadrilateral which ostensibly originates from off the page. Similarly in a smaller scaled archival print titled Monument (2009), exhibits a visually symmetrical composition, which unlike Object Relic, involves a lower horizon line behind a zoomed out perspective of an architectural island. However, it is the centrally pillared quadrilateral that almost functions as an ancient obelisk which grants this particular work a distinct ambivalence between spirituality and occultness. Any possible symbolic function associated with Shah’s compositional designs is left only to the viewer to ponder over.

The detailed background informatively affords a cultural insight into the traditional design process attributed to her Pakistani heritage, while the centrally pillared quadrilateral highlights an affiliation to contemporary art; abstracting the representational. A smaller thirty by twenty inch drawing titled Monument Wall (2009) conveys most profoundly Shah’s bold distortion of spatial composition. She employs quadrilateral and triangular forms which acquire negated movement while juxtaposing that, the artist builds an intricate web of “frolicking” bands and patterning creating a beautifully surreal skyscape. The employment of these two polar technical elements affords Shah’s works, dare I say, a “perfect” balance between space, line, and form thus enabling each formal element to harmoniously coincide with one another. Interestingly, (and perhaps the least interesting) Shah presents a floor- based installation titled, Object Repetition (line to distance). This three- dimensional piece is constructed of several small, acute plaster objects, which have been judiciously positioned to recreate a literal representation of her two- dimensional architectural compositions.

In totality, Scaramouche Gallery’s gorgeous space grants each of Shah’s works an absolute iconography. With every mark and shape converging to form these expansive planetary landscapes that surpass all knowledge and understanding, and yet, their infinite architecture and ambiguous space evokes an exquisiteness that is very much human.

1 comment:

  1. Mention the name of the exhibition, “object anxiety”, in the introductory paragraph. How does this title connect with the work? Include more about this exploration of the human landscape and the brutal geometric shapes she includes in/with them. What does this mean to you? What does this mean to the artist? What does this mean to society? I don’t think she leaves the symbolic function unexplained. You are missing a couple of commas within this review…”…unlike Object, Relic” and “…ancient obelisk, which”…”and triangular forms, which.” I enjoyed your personal reflections. Strictly informative reviews are boring. Comment on the arrangement and the differences in presenting the work. You didn’t mention the room with the small illuminated photographs; these were dramatically different from the work displayed in the front room.