Hasani Sahlehe

'Banana Republic'

The SCAD Museum of Art presents "Banana Republic," an exhibition by Hasani Sahlehe (B.F.A., painting, 2015). Through his unique perspective growing up in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sahlehe investigates the culture of his home island. The exhibition features new paintings that consider colonization of the Caribbean and its effects on food sources and plant species.

"Banana Republic" examines the exchange of culture through plant life and fruit. Abstractions of flora from St. Thomas are depicted in the paintings. The artist's fascination with his homeland's vegetation came through realizations that such plants were in fact cultivated through colonization and the slave trade. For example, rice, as depicted in his painting "A Quarter Piece" is a staple ingredient in the cuisines of the Caribbean, but was originally introduced to the Americas by European colonizers. Similarly, the banana, a native species of Africa, found its way to the Caribbean in the early 16th century by way of Spanish missionaries, after the plant had been taken from West Africa and cultivated in the Canary Islands by the Portuguese.

SCAD Museum of Art exhibition Hasani Sahlehe
Hasani Sahlehe, B.F.A., painting, 2015, "A Quarter Piece," acrylic and oil on canvas, 72" x 84", 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

In "Banana Republic," the artist acknowledges the disturbing history of colonization, and also recognizes the creolization of his island. In his depictions, Sahlehe chooses a bright color palette and energetic brushwork, creating works that are celebratory. These paintings use fruit and grains as their reference point, but meander into abstracted, vigorous compositions, which commemorate the resilience of cultures to regenerate convention into hybrid customs.

Sahlehe works in a variety of media and has participated in numerous exhibitions throughout the Southeast. Significant exhibitions include "What a Kallaloo" at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. He was a SCAD Alumni Atelier ambassador in Spring 2017, and is currently a MINT (Gallery) Leap Year resident. His work has been covered in Atlanta’s City Lights, Atlanta Magazine and other publications. Sahlehe lives and works in Atlanta.

Credits

"Banana Republic" is curated by Ben Tollefson, assistant curator of SCAD exhibitions.

Museum Admission

The exhibition is free and open to the public.

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