Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Wonderfully Strange World of Seher Shah (revision)

Within the walls of the Scaramouche Gallery is a collection of drawings, prints, and photographs by Pakistani- born artist Seher Shah. Object Anxiety exhibits a continuing exploration into the fusion between architectural engineering and cultural designs with relation to geometry, linear perspective, and symbolism.

A majority of Shah’s prints and drawings contain a singular ominous black quadrilateral that repeatedly bisects her compositions. Shah’s largest graphite drawing measures a modest seventy- two inches by one hundred and six inches and truly exemplifies the artist’s adeptness in creating stylistic juxtapositions. Object Relic (2011) portrays a vast architectural landscape composed of tightly detailed patterns that recede endlessly into space. Intersecting this pristine landscape is a penetrative black quadrilateral that originates from off the page. Similarly, a smaller scaled archival print titled Monument (2009) exhibits a symmetrical composition, which unlike Object Relic, acquires a lower horizon line behind a diminishing perspective of an architectural island. However, it is the quadrilateral that is located centrally on the island that functions almost like an ancient obelisk, granting this particular work a unique ambivalence between spirituality and occultness. Though Shah’s compositions are symbolically poignant, the historical background attached to them is just as compelling and most likely unknown to the viewer. Nevertheless, Shah’s fusion between block forms and intricate patterning leaves the spectator in awe.

The meticulously patterned backgrounds denote of a timeless culture that relates implicitly to the artist’s nationality. A smaller thirty by twenty inch drawing titled Monument Wall (2009) conveys most profoundly Shah’s bold distortion of spatial composition. She juxtaposes a group of idle quadrilateral and triangular forms with an intricate web of “frolicking” bands and patterns conjuring a- in what can only be described as- surreal skyscape. The employment of these two formal elements affords Shah’s works, a “perfect” balance between space, line, and form thus enabling both elements to harmoniously coincide with one another. Interestingly, (but perhaps the least fascinating) Shah presents a floor- based installation titled, Object Repetition (line to distance). The piece is constructed of several small, pointy plaster objects, which have been judiciously positioned to recreate a three dimensional representation of her two- dimensional architectural compositions.

In totality, Scaramouche Gallery’s gorgeous space permits each of Shah’s works to function as symbolic entities. Every mark and shape converges to form these expansive planetary landscapes that possess an extra-terrestrial aura and yet, its infinite architecture and ambiguous space evokes an exquisiteness that feels very much human.

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