Prina Shah: The Unseen

Prina Shah: The unseen

Prina Shah: The Unseen
March 20, 2024 – April 17, 2024
Morton Fine Art
Washington D.C.
52 O St NW #302

Morton Fine Art is pleased to announce The Unseen, a solo exhibition of painting and works on paper by Nairobi-based visual artist Prina Shah. Underpinned by a practice of internal reflection and meditation, Shah’s works revolve around a constellation of influences and techniques. Reflecting on the lasting effects of political, social and economic instability and her own personal experience of being raised across cultures, Shah limns the inward path of art towards healing and transformation.

Prina Shah: The Unseen
Prina Shah
I See, 2022
Acrylic on canvas
43 x 43 in.
Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artists

Formed of concentric rings (of paint, ink, graphite and found material), which Shah exactingly builds layer by layer, the resulting circular works resemble a disc, a portal, an aperture. Inspiration and outcomes often mirror one another in Shah’s practice: products of attention, they request yours; the result of meditation, they encourage deep-focused engagement. The artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and first solo exhibition in the United States, The Unseen, will be on view from March 20 – April 17, 2024at Morton Fine Art’s Washington, D.C. space (52 O St NW #302). An opening reception will be held Saturday, March 23, 2024, from 2-4pm.

Prina Shah: The Unseen
Prina Shah
Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artists

Shah’s exhibition brings together the titular, large-scale The Unseen series (43 x 43 in.) alongside smaller works on canvas (Power and Pause series) and works on paper pieces (Inner Whispers series). Channeling a different type and center of energy, each work in The Unseen series functions as a numinous impression of sorts, charting that energy’s pathway towards a gateway that Shah identifies as a “subtle body.” In Shah’s usage, the subtle body is a portal that connects and influences the separate spaces of the body, mind and spirit.

Prina Shah: The Unseen
Prina Shah
Inner Whispers I, 2018
Ink, graphite and ballpoint pen on paper
13 x 9.5 in. 
Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artists

Shah’s work reflects her intimate and articulated knowledge of the customs and practices of her Indian heritage. Often created in tandem with meditation and mantra practices, The Unseen works are projections of contemplation and, ultimately, healing—for both the artist and the viewer. Further still, the artworks’ titles (I Am, I Do, I Know, I Love, I See) add another mirroring layer in Shah’s cycle ofintention, inspiration, form and address. Like most of Shah’s work, The Unseen series dually work as record and instruction: a documentation of internal exploration and a hopeful pathway for others to take towards enhanced human consciousness.

A flowing, almost paradoxical sense of stillness, progression and emergence pervades the works. Composed of colorful bands, lines and/or scrolling “text”, the works speak by different forms and colors. I am (2023) excludes red marks and washes. Threaded with yellow, the lemony line in I Do (2023) may be taken for a radiant unbroken passage written out in luxuriant cursive.

Prina Shah: The Unseen
Prina Shah
I Know, 2022
Acrylic on canvas
43 x 43 in.
Courtesy Morton Fine Art and the artists

Examples from the Power and Pause series take a more open path, forming a lighter weave than the denser, many-ringed The Unseen works. Executed in flowing ink and pen, the Inner Whispers works evoke a whirling example of surrealist automatic writing. And like automatic writing, efforts to read Shah’s line as “text,” will not result in any fixed meaning or message, but rather a field of intentions and interpretations.

A master at weaving color and form in her extraordinarily detailed works, the artist brings a similar rigor and curiosity to how she positions and attunes her works. “Excavating the ‘dent’ from ‘Identity’,” Shah explains, “I focus on the ‘I’ as an infinite entity where all experiences occur and recur…I use the circle as the all-perceiving eye.” Punning and deconstructive, the observation is indicative of the artist’s interest in the part and whole, the whole in the part, the part of the whole and the whole of the part.

Encouraging an exploratory unraveling, Shah invites the audience to consider the way they perceive their own environment (both internal and external) and to ponder the possibilities of spaces and escape those musings can generate.

Prina Shah: The Unseen opens on March 20, 2024 until April 17, 2024 at Morton Fine Art

©2024 Prina Shah

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