F5: Hasani Sahlehe Tackles Life’s Experiences With Paint

F5: Hasani Sahlehe Tackles Life’s Experiences With Paint

Hasani Sahlehe is a multifaceted artist who was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands and now calls Atlanta, Georgia his home base. Using techniques from airbrush to poured acrylic gel that resembles thick resin, he manipulates color and medium to offer the viewer a moment of contemplation around recurring topics like memory, migration, and the otherworldly through the abstract. Hasani’s practice references other important aspects of his life as well – music, spirituality, the history of painting, the natural world, and lived experiences – to create his own visual language. In fact, he’s included a few of them below. One might say that Hasani’s inspiration can be distilled down to humanity as a whole, with the paint mimicking the relationships that can be found between us and the physical world, able to exist in various states just as we are, both tactile and intangible.

Today, Hasani Sahlehe joins us for Friday Five!

multicolor abstract art in a gallery with a dark-skinned man wearing a hat, white shirt, and black pants standing next to it

Hasani Sahlehe \\\ Photo: Chia Chong, courtesy of SCAD

pink and red abstract art

Cody Tumblin, “It Blooms Tomorrow”, 2017, dye and watercolor on dyed cotton, 16 x 20 inches. \\\ Photo courtesy of the artist and Good Enough

1. Cody Tumblin

Cody Tumblin is my favorite painter, his work is tender and refreshing. I’m also deeply impacted by his writing. Here’s his artist statement from his 2017 show, It Blooms Tomorrow, held at Good Enough, an artist-run gallery in Atlanta:

We know the spider’s thread runs out, just as the horizon ends. A new sun every day, and a moon to follow. We can name every particle in an atom, we can write equations to describe the forces that govern their wild dances in the air. We can measure a ray of light and know its precise arrival on a distant planet. Yet we have forgotten how to revel at the immensity of the sky, the grandeur of a cloud unfurling its fingers in a blue expanse. We have lost our ability to conceive what magic must be like. Because we can describe a solar flare with numbers and glyphs, we have forgotten how to worship the Sun with prayers and incantations. We have the audacity to deny the existence of God because we have sent men and women to the Moon, tiny machines to the surface of Mars and deep into the chasms of the Mariana Trench. Do you feel this ache too? This longing to forget the name of every star, to forget the name of a lover, to find solace in a few rays of sunlight without knowing their final destination?

panoramic view of mountains and the horizon

Photo: Hasani Sahlehe

2. Picara Point

Picara Point is equal parts graceful and terrifying. Located on St. Thomas’ northern edge, I imagine this is what infinity looks like. Crashing waves roar and sunsets seem to last for hours. The waters are too dangerous to swim in or even get too close to, and I think the entrance is now fenced off. But, I always reflect on how small I felt whenever I visited.

high angle view of shoppers making their way down a wide aisle with vegetables displayed on both sides

3. Your Dekalb Farmers Market

Entering Your Farmer’s Market feels like hopping onto an intercontinental trolley. Located just outside Atlanta, the market carries food from all over the world and employs more than 800 people from over 40 countries. I pass tons of groceries on my 30-minute drive just because I enjoy the experience. Visiting helps to ease my homesickness and browsing the variety of produce becomes a creative act. My go-to offerings include California short grain brown rice, house-made marinara sauce, fresh ginger-pineapple juice, Salted Cod, freshly baked banana nut muffins, Ethiopian coffee beans, rambutan, and agave nectar. Lastly, they have a vast assortment of insanely affordable seasonings.

video capture of a dark-skinned woman with long dark hair wearing a red garment smiling behind a Peevey keyboard

Still captured from Alice Coltrane (Swami Turiyasangitananda) performing at Satchidananda Ashram – Yogaville in 1993. \\\ Photo courtesy Satchidananda Ashram – Yogaville YouTube Channel

4. Living with Music

I’m obsessed with music. I am open to most things, old or new, popular or obscure. Sometimes I’ll go to record stores and purchase inexpensive records that aren’t available online or on streaming services. There’s also lots of good stuff on YouTube, I particularly enjoy finding live performances. I’m not concerned about aggressively finding new music, my focus is finding music that I can listen to for months or years. Recent favorites include this Alice Coltrane performance and this P Funk performance. The real heroes are the people who upload this content.

overhead image of a dinner plate with a fried fish and two sauces

Paplet Fry \\\ Photo courtesy Dhamaka

5. Dinner

My wife and I love trying new restaurants, it’s how we bond. We love sharing our finds with loved ones and revisiting our favorites. Some recent highlights and recommendations: Dhamaka in Manhattan, New York. Everything is good but you have to try the paplet fry. At Clavel in Baltimore, Maryland, get the Mezcalita. At Common Thread in Savannah, Georgia try the Crudo. Every pasta dish is delicious and they make a mean Gold Rush at Popina in Brooklyn, New York. Lastly, we love the happy hour at Finch and Fifth in Augusta, Georgia. The drinks are good, but the charcuterie with bacon jam is the real star.


Work by Hasani Sahlehe:

multicolor abstract art in a gallery

Installation view “Singing in the Response” solo exhibition at Tops Gallery, Memphis, TN, 2022

white and grey abstract art in a gallery

Installation view, “Shaping a Memory” on view in solo exhibition “Sky, You, Water, Ground” at Gallery 12.26, Dallas, TX

multicolor abstract art in a gallery

Installation view “Stretch My Hands” solo exhibition at Laney Contemporary, Savannah, GA, 2022

multicolor abstract art in a gallery

Installation view “Stretch My Hands” solo exhibition at Laney Contemporary, Savannah, GA, 2022

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