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South South

Seher Shah’s artistic practice manifests through three mediums, but is born from experimentation, research and curiosity. Through her work she explores architecture, temporality, history, poetry and abstraction. Her current show, Notes from a City Unknown, is her third solo with gallery Nature Morte and unpacks the threads woven between these thematic interests while representing a transformative period for the artist. SOUTH SOUTH interviewed Shah to find out more about her practice and exhibition.

SOUTH SOUTH (SS): How would you describe the evolution of your artistic practice, particularly this movement toward interiority that has strongly influenced the most recent years of your work?

Seher Shah (SSH): I am interested in how spaces speak to us through the visible and unseen. And how drawing can reveal the hidden within ourselves. I find myself moving closer to drawing’s ability to speak to things that cannot easily be expressed in words.

SS: How do you think about the audience for your work? Does this influence your thematic references or the ways in which you present your work?

SSH: Each audience brings their own histories, translations and languages. If a person finds something in the work they hold close, it is a very special exchange. I keep going back to intimacy as a state where I find resonance. An exchange, determined by time and understanding, through a generosity in sharing private thoughts. I find myself drawn to understanding this state through works on paper. At the same time, the privacy within my work space is a place I hold dear. Once a work leaves this space it lives through the eyes of another.

SOUTH SOUTH (SS): Drawing, printmaking and sculpture all create different forms of intimacy between the artist and the work that unfolds and require particular visceral embodiment. How do you think about these intimacies in your practice as an artist who works across these mediums?

SSH: Each process speaks to a different tactility and fragility. Drawing through marks and constructed spaces, etchings through control and intuition, photogravures and cyanotypes through light, and woodcuts through the removal of material. Each process engages our visual sensibilities through their surfaces, material weight and the infinite possibilities between depth and flatness.

I have also drawn my way into sculpture. There is a certain power that elemental materials hold, such as cast iron. A certain quality that speaks to time and the vastness of landscape. Sculpture is a way to experiment with how line moves into three-dimensional form and to explore weathered and marked surfaces.

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