ARTIST in CON.TEXT: Hadieh Shafie


Transition, 2014


Hadieh Shafie was born in Tehran, Iran and currently based in the United States, the artist constructs intricate designs with low-relief paper sculpture. Both process-oriented and impossibly refined, Shafie’s skillful works are often monumental in scale, overwhelming the viewer with a visual feast of color. The artist maintains studios in Brooklyn, NY and Baltimore, MD.

Where are you based?
I am currently based in Brooklyn, New York.

How would you describe your work?
My work expresses my interest and love of language, books and printed matter, but
pushes the boundary of how we define them by blurring the lines between, book
form, drawing, painting and sculpture.

What types of media do you work with?
My primary medium is paper. I use various inks and paints, and additive and subtractive methods on paper to explore abstraction.

What influences your work?
There is no simple answer. So much of my current work is the culmination of years in the studio – continuously looking, playing and discovering. Recently I had a studio visit with a curator who was interested in seeing very early works from 1990-1995, from my time as an undergraduate and graduate student. Going through the works that remain from that time I was surprised to see the consistency within my own practice at that time as well as an exceptionally cohesive path leading toward my work of today. My work comes from within and from a curiosity that is not influenced by a particular place, but feelings and from materials I use. I work intuitively. Music, literatureare are also influences as are artists of the past, such as Martin, Rothko, Truit and Fontana, they are emotional stimuli and those connections make me go deeper into my own work.

What is the most useful thing you have learnt at art school?
To take advantage of the concentrated time I had to delve into my practice and appreciate the time I had with like-minded people.

The word “Eshgh”, which means ‘love’, recurs throughout your work. Why?
I am focused on this particular word in Farsi for two reasons. It’s meaning and its visual form. I chose it because of how often the word is repeated in poetry and calligraphy. This was striking because I grew up in a loveless time. While it was recited I didn’t see its true meaning practiced, so it was simply an abstract ideal, not a practiced societal reality. Its repetition in calligraphic form made me interested in its graphic form. The word consists of three letters that when combined create a perfect closed form that wants to be repeated. And this repetition so perfectly aligns with the word’s meaning and can visually perpetuate it. I draw the word devoid of rules of calligraphy, as a gesture to release the visual form from its confines. In repeating the word with my own untrained hand I assert the self and not the collective.

What is your daily creative schedule?
I tend to work everyday. I find late night hours fertile, so my time in the studio starts late in the day and ends early in the morning.



Forough 7, 2014



Sohrab 2, 2015



Block, 2014

Photos courtesy of the artist.
Link to the artist’s website.

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