Only courageous people decide to have their career in arts, as such indeed is the woman we interviewed. Emerging artist Sana Shah, born in Odessa, Ukraine and now based in Toronto creates abstract figurative drawings inspired by female body. She shared with us the background of her work, early influences and inspiration.

Sana Shah 1

How would you describe the subject matter of your work? 

I believe we were created in the image of God and by being creators ourselves, we fulfill our purpose, each according to one's nature. My goal is to combine material and cultural worlds to increase the chances of reaching the balance.

Do you see your work as autobiographical at all?

I do. When I was a child I used to reflexively seek for the shapes of human bodies and half-faces in the patterns of almost all objects within my field of vision: tiles, wood panels, spots, etc. Also I was attending ballet school since I was 4 years old till my 15, so I consistently was observing nude female bodies in motion. I remember also the first moment I was consciously observing my mother’s breasts when I was 5 or 6, my first thought was: “This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen”. I guess right now I am in charge to carefully depict the images I have accumulated in my mind.

SUMMER NIGHT DANCE , ink on paper ;  LIBERTINES , ink and charcoal on paper ;  SEEK A JOB , pastels on paper

SUMMER NIGHT DANCE, ink on paper ; LIBERTINES, ink and charcoal on paper ; SEEK A JOB, pastels on paper

What mediums do you work with?

I love Indian ink, charcoal and pastels. I also love experimenting with the materials: flour, powder, water of boiled Chinese black rice, etc. Currently I am assisting Toronto-based female artist Darby Milbrath, and she gradually introduces me to oil painting techniques. 

LOVE,  pastels on paper

LOVE, pastels on paper

What are you presently inspired by— are there particular things you are reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?

I am taking Psychology, so I consistently and automatically drive the parallel of sciences I am taking to the art world. Even Statistics inspired me with its terms once. Once I started doing it, I accidently discovered that Russian avangardists were seeking  to dissolve art in science and vice versa, as well as to combine culture and nature. I think today, citizen dwellers are at risk of complete dissonance with nature and its power, in other words with faith in Supreme. It is important to accept the fact that we are observing the Supreme with the tools such as science, not creating though.


“In order to avoid riddling the earth physically throughout, we have to learn how to see it thought our eyes”, Matyushin. In other words, we have to trust our feelings, we have to believe that the truth is there, and there would be no need to seek for it physically. " 

SOCIALIZATION,  ink on paper ;  BLOSSOM,  pastels on paper

SOCIALIZATION, ink on paper ; BLOSSOM, pastels on paper

What does having a physical space to make art in mean for your process, and how do you make your space work for you?

I can work anywhere. The main factors that influence my work in progress is sound and height of the ceiling.

Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?

I am practicing with oil painting and looking forward to start working big. Currently I am working on a piece which is a future gift for a close person who overcame cancer

PSYCHODRAMA , ink on paper

PSYCHODRAMA, ink on paper

PSYCHODRAMA, ink on paper


Artist Statement

Speed of a modern day’s progress leads to nakedness/poverty of soul depriving the perception of depth.

The nakedness of the soul: impudence and protrusion, rejection and a hatred, inability and infirmity to accept and give.

Natural beauty of the lines of the body and soul is overwritten within the context of everyday life; vain fashion and a habit of satisfying herd instincts lead to deformation of the purity of perception; ancient physical and spiritual human features are bent under the pressure of the modern progress kinetics.

The consonance of lines and the contiguity of their boundaries are the parallels to the real social ones through the process of sensorial and intuitive experience, and it is transmitted through the natural designations: imagining a result as a quality of an actual process, instead of attempting to predict an endpoint. Connections between individuals: shared types of existences, experiences and views are harmoniously integrating/syncretizing into a single whole.

Here, love as consonance is not inferior to nudity as poverty. Love is a subtle incorporeal universal that protects all other existing substances. Here, the focus on a person does not manifest a human as a center of the universe, on the contrary, the human is being depicted  as a simple, sometimes as a ridiculous, body/organism capable of multiplying itself.

Love learned. Love does not seek for its strength, it trusts everything.