Once, John (Coltrane) and I were coming from a concert that he had played, and it was late in the morning. We heard a couple leaving, and the lady said, oh, I have to hurry home. I’m going to church tomorrow. And her friends said, church? You’ve already been to church.

(Alice Coltrane-Turiyasangitananda)

Hasani Sahlehe’s painting happens in the present. He shows up and awaits compulsion. His practice is a solitary one; meditative and introspective, he is informed by ancient architectures, memories, and sensations unseen but deeply felt. Sahlehe works in parallel with Swamini A.C. Turiyasangitananda (also known as Alice Coltrane), a celebrated jazz artist turned spiritual leader and maker of holy music.

Expressions and mediums change; the divine is the through line. After the death of her husband, A.C. Turiyasangitananda gave herself completely to spiritual expansion, centering her musical practice on Vedantic traditions. Her versions of ancient chants employ electric keyboards and synthesizers, intertwining the sounds of contemporary music with Sanskrit prayers. Continuing in A.C. Turiyasangitananda’s lineage, Sahlehe’s paintings channel an eternal truth. Some address the viewer with reverence, glowing and hovering upon the wall; others throw the doors open and roar. Sounds pulse within the forms, guiding their weight or levity; airbrushed blocks whisper while glossy planks boom and cry. Raw canvas is tinted and stained, echoes of opaque gel spilled overtop. Each work is an inimitable repetition, another shrine, path, chant, breath. Within Vedantic discourses, there is a common analogy to describe the relationship between consciousness and the mind.

Place a red flower next to a crystal, and you will see the flower’s color mirrored so that the stone itself appears red. The true nature of the crystal is never actually red; it reflects the flower, merely a channel.

Hasani Sahlehe grew up in a four-generation home in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. He was raised by his grandmother and among his many relatives, several of whom were musicians, educators, artists, and fervent preservers of local history and culture. Sahlehe graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2015. Sahlehe is a recipient of a 2023 Macdowell Fellowship. He has exhibited internationally and has had solos at the Atlanta Contemporary (Atlanta, GA), SCAD Museum of Art (Savannah, GA), Adams and Ollman (Portland, OR), Tops Gallery (Memphis, TN), and Gallery 12.26 (Dallas, TX), among others.