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ArtReview Asia

Seher Shah, Landscape Object: Vista I, 2013

Painted wood, Plexi and acetate, 36 x 20 x 8 cm

Pakistan-born, New York-based artist Seher Shah has been making a name for herself recently via her meditations on brutalist architecture in solo shows at Jhaveri Contemporary (Mumbai, India), The Contemporary Austin (USA) and Green Art Gallery (Dubai, UAE) amongst others. She is best known for her graphic, often monochromatic drawings that take individual features of brutalist buildings and present them as abstract fragments, although she also works in photography and, more recently, sculpture. Her favoured mode of working sees forms of unforgiving modernist architecture flattened and abstracted into simple motifs which are then contrasted with more chaotic backgrounds that often depict buildings or landscapes in a state of flux.

It is possible to read her work as a critique of the heavy-handed assumptions behind modernist architecture - for example her works Mammoth: Aerial Landscape Proposals (2012) and Object Relic (Unite d'Habitation) (2011) superimpose flattened modernist structures by Le Corbusier on digital photographs and drawn renderings of an urban landscape. The disjuncture in scale between the architectural elements and the landscapes juxtaposes them with, evokes the dominating effect that brutalist buildings often had over the surrounding landscape. It arguably also gestures at the hubris of modernist architects' assumptions about how those in low-cost or public housing would like to live. 

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