Shafie’s colorful and multidimensional works defy simple categorization. The artist layers thousands of strips of hand painted paper, which are then rolled into scrolls and placed within a frame or stacked flat. Persian words like eshgh ("love") are inscribed on and often concealed within the layers of paper. Shafie’s repeated use of words and phrases references meditative practices that are central to Sufism.
Shafie’s practice as a whole is also an investigation of color fields, experimenting with countless forms of paper and testing their reactions following different treatments. The palette for her new show will consist of nine colors: ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow medium, quinacridone magenta, c.p. cadmium orange, c.p. cadmium yellow primerose, light magenta, phthalo green, dioxazine purple and fluorescent chartreuse , in addition to black ink and the white of the paper. The artist plays with illusory optics as the interaction of these nine colors gives the impression that the works encompass hundreds of colors saturated within the scrolls. Using a variety of techniques, some of the works in Surfaced feature initially straight strips of paper that increasingly emulate the flow of water. In others, the stacked strips of paper seem to be floating throughout the surface and the scrolls themselves seem to gently sway. These works are held together by binding the strips of paper to one another, directly referencing the art/history of bookbinding and manuscript making.
As the artist continues to explore the conceptual aspects of her medium, diptych pieces will juxtapose flat scrolls with stacked strips of paper where the text is directly applied to the surface edges. In this interplay between the hidden and the revealed, Shafie effectively activates the surface of her works. If the strips were to be separated from one another, the words would disappear altogether. The text in these new diptych works incorporates verses from two of the most influential modernist Iranian poets, Forough Farrokhzad and Sohrab Sepehri.
The new show challenges viewers’ concepts of sculpture and drawing as the artist successfully allows images and forms to appear in multiple dimensions. The edges of flat works directly reference the image on the surface, while light and shadow interact on more overtly sculptural stacks of scrolls and papers to create painterly surface images.
Born in Iran, Hadieh Shafie currently lives and works in Silver Spring, MD. She has exhibited at numerous global institutions such as The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Institute du Monde Arabe, Paris; Casa Arabe, Madrid; the Cantor Arts Centre, Stanford University; and the San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas. Her work can also be found in prestigious public and private collections including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The British Museum, London; Sheldon Museum of Art, Nebraska; The Bank of America, Corporation Collection, North Carolina; The Salsali Private Museum, Dubai; and The Farjam Collection, Dubai.