Pakistani, b. 1975
Trained as an architect, Seher Shah brings virtuosic draftsmanship and firsthand knowledge of the ramifications of urban development to her drawings, photographic prints, and sculptures. Graphic, intricately detailed, and often monumental in scale, Shah’s works feature city plazas, urban grids, ancient ruins, famous religious and political monuments, and modern buildings isolated and fragmented, exploded, collaged together, or interrupted by imposing, black geometric shapes. Such powerful visual disruptions to these symbols of order and civilization suggest that modern cities—and particularly rapidly modernizing cities, such as Beijing or Dubai—are caught in a permanent cycle of excavation, ruin, and renewal, in which history and inhabitants are often pushed aside.
Seher Shah, Mammoth: Aerial Landscape Proposals, 2012. Image Credit: http://www.aaa-a.org/2013/09/09/observed-ratios%E2%80%A8-shoshana-dentz-caitlin-masely-seher-shah/
Recently Shah participated in a group exhibition at the James Gallery at the City University of New York. Curated by Katherine Carl, Observed Ratios opened in August and was on view till 19 October, 2013. The exhibition brings to fore the artists’ engagement with modernist forms, which they survey in their works, while contemplating their own histories, producing works that respond to their individual enquiries into the modernist landscape. The exhibition was accompanied with a extensive program which included talks and interactions. A conversation with the artists that throws light of their practice at large and their works for this particular exhibition can be seen here.
Earlier in the year she opened a solo show titled Constructed Landscapes at The Contemporary Austin in Texas. Curated by Rachel Adams, the works further investigate Shah’s preoccupation with modernist architecture and urban monuments, by exploring ideas of large-scale urban structures embedded in the landscape. This exhibition also includes a site specific sculptural work titled Object Repetition. The work consisted of identical geometric forms that are place together on the floor, lending the viewer a aerial view of the work which seems to reference architectural forms prevalent in Shah’s oevre.
Seher Shah, Detail of Object Repetition (Line to Distance), 2013. Image Credit: http://pastelegram.org/reviews/191
For the first time, these new works are shown alongside her earlier drawings that reference the 1903 British coronation ceremony held in India, known as the Delhi Durbar. Here Shah combines archival imagery of the grand event with hand drawn and digital elements, to explore the multi spacial tangents of the ceremony. A work from this series titled Perversions of Empire: Cluster was part of Saffronart’s autumn auction of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art in September 2013.
Seher Shah, Perversion of Empire: Cluster, 2008. Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/auctions/PostWork.aspx?l=9008
Seher’s works explore themes related to art and architecture through the use of drawing, prints, photographs and sculptural installations. The artist often explores the spacial relationships between different entities- human, monuments, landscapes; often times to highlight spaces of power and authority that navigate the relationships between these entities- sometimes inherent but often veiled and hidden. Given the artist’s consistent progression and commitment towards developing her artistic discourse, Shah is an artist to seek by genuine connoisseurs and followers of the Contemporary South Asian Art genre.