Studies in Form

Seher Shah and Randhir Singh 

Studies in Form is a new collaborative body of work betweenartist Seher Shah and photographer Randhir Singh exploring overlapping ideas inarchitecture, photography, drawing and printmaking.

Over the past few years, we have worked within ourindependent practices as artist and photographer to create a space forcollaboration. This space, which is based on our interests in art andarchitecture, has also been built around our education as architects. Our workhas explored methods of representing scale, materiality and fragmentationthrough relationships between drawing and the photograph. These relationshipsof scale and materiality have manifest in a number of different ways over theyears including works using aerial landscape photography, single buildings thatare rendered in pale graphite works on paper, deconstructed photographs thattranslate into drawings, as well as a series of works that explore monolithicstructures within the landscape. By deconstructing, re-visiting, changingperspectives, we look to shift between scale and ways of seeing allowing forseveral threads of inquiry to enter our collaborative space. Within this spacewe have tried to remain constant in our engagement with the scale of theindividual to the larger urban context. How do we represent an experiential natureof the space around us in its constant fragmentation?

Studies in Form, anongoing series of cyanotype prints builds on these shared interests of architecturalscale and materiality by working with our personal photographic study of architecturalmassing and volume built across multiple cities in the 1960’s -1970’s. Theseaccumulated photographic recordings, with their own fragments and details,highlight the incomplete nature of experiencing the landscape and explorerepetition of the grid through surfaces and textures.

Fromthis personal archive we focused on four unique buildings by fragmenting theirarchitectural components through photographic images. Our interest in theseparticular buildings, which share a number of aesthetic qualities, includingheavy massing, the sculptural use of concrete, and use of repetitive structuralgrids, also signaled many aspirations and desires within their own respectivecontexts. Grouped into chapters, the four buildings in this ongoingseries are:

Akbar Bhavan (Shivnath Prasad, New Delhi. 1969)
Barbican Estate (Chamberlin Powell and Bon, London. 1976)
Dentsu Head Office (Kenzo Tange, Tokyo. 1967)
Brownfield Estate (ErnőGoldfinger, London. 1970)

Alongside these four, two additional chapters bothreproduced as cyanotypes, offer varying perspectives. A series of cyanotype drawings,titled Flatlands Blueprints, explores notions of incompleteness anduncertainty as a counterpoint to determined architectural expression. Thesculptural forms and massing found in the photographs is further explored in aseries of woodcut based prints, titled Hewn Blueprints. Working witharchitectural representational methods, such as the plan and elevation, these cyanotypeprints function between the precise formalism of a blueprint and the intuitivenature of drawing.

Cyanotypes were one of the first photographic processesdeveloped in the 19th century emerging only a few years after the developmentof the daguerreotype. They were also a precursor to the blueprint, which was animportant reproduction method for architectural and engineering drawings wellinto the 20th century. For Studies inForm, we were drawn to cyanotypes for its ability to straddle the worlds ofphotography, architecture, drawing and printmaking.

Studies in Form will be shown at the Jameel Arts Center in Dubai from March 7th to June 8th, 2019.

Using Format