Hasani Sahlehe’s paintings stretch nearly from floor to ceiling: to stand before them is to become enveloped by their magnitude and scale. Sahlehe is particularly drawn to certain motifs—waterfalls, rainbows, and the sun—which appear in Eastern and pre-Columbian belief systems. But he is equally interested in the tactile quality of paint. “Throughout the works, I apply paint by pouring, staining, airbrushing, and even casting,” he says. “I consider how paint functions in myriad material states and how that parallels humanity existing in mind, body, and spirit.”
Sahlehe began his career in a graphics studio, but he was searching for an art form that could better mingle emotion and aesthetics. “Realizing that painting is so vast is what drew me to the medium,” he explains. “For instance, it can question the world around you while simultaneously conveying beauty.” Sahlehe premiered two solo exhibitions last year—in Baltimore and Augusta, Georgia—with only a few visitors allowed at a time due to pandemic restrictions. As it turned out, the ability to spend more time with these paintings, in a state of relative solitude, may well have allowed for deeper connections with both subject and medium. “I think that this stillness complemented the work,” Sahlehe says.
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