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Hadieh Shafie Biography

Iran-American artist Hadieh Shafie is known for her low-relief paper works made from tightly coiled strips bearing Farsi calligraphy. A blend of drawing and sculpture, Shafie's works incorporate bright patterns echoing traditional art from the Middle East.

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Early Life and Education

Born in Tehran, Shafie immigrated to the United States in 1983 at the age of 13. She studied painting at the University of Maryland (1993) and went on to complete an MFA at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn (1999).

Shafie left New York to focus on performance and video art at the University of Maryland, Baltimore in 1999 after being offered a fellowship. There, she completed a second MFA in Imaging and Digital Art in 2004.

Hadieh Shafie Artworks

Highly detailed and process-oriented, Hadieh Shafie's bright paper works bear intricate designs, containing handwritten notes concealed between folds and often produced on large-scale paper exceeding a metre in length and width.

Process

Repetition, process, and time are recurrent themes in Shafie's meticulous sculptures. Each work is made by stacking, rolling, and spiking coiled paper strips, painted with alternating hues.

Shafie makes use of a limited colour palette for each work, alternating the hues of each band to create new colour combinations. Decisions are made every step along the way, as scrolls are set side by side, much like a painting or a sculpture.

In paper scroll works like the 'Saayeha' (2016) series, rolled paper containing handwritten and printed text repeating the Farsi word eshgh (love/passion) on individual strips, well concealed within the whirling geometric patterns, obscure the artist's search for understanding and acceptance.

Love and Passion

Eshgh as an ideal and promise returns throughout Shafie's work, as seen in her early thesis exhibition September Promise (1996), a series of eshgh drawings on mylar, and her first video installation Spin (1995). Both are inspired by the Sama dance of the whirling dervish, a Sufi ceremony performed as remembrance.

Eshgh Distorted (2017), made two decades later, featured a stacked paper work combined with ink and acrylic, showing Farsi calligraphy both inside the folds and on the paper surface—the same call for love and acceptance now distorted by the paper's relief.

Spontaneity and Control

Throughout Shafie's process tensions between spontaneity and control emerge with every decision. As paper strips are added and folded, handwritten texts and symbols are concealed within the rings, no longer accessible to the eye, relinquished to eternal churning.

The same tensions can be noticed in mixed-media works like the 'Draw/Cut/Rotate' series, which show coiled geometric shapes distorted by reliefs on an uneven surface, rendered along the spectrum of cool primary shades.

In Draw/Cut/Rotate 17 (2019), whirling circles sit inside an uneven rectangle, threatening to recoil and spin away. The same control seen in Shafie's 2007 'Grid Cut Peel' series, where dense patterns swallow the museum board, is relinquished despite the simplified composition and the matter of fact titling.

Different segments maintain a tight balance in 'Transition Series', in which vertical, diagonal, or zigzag stacks of paper alternate with areas of rolled paper. Colours vary in each work, from the pale hues making up Fragments in White (Transition Series) (2022) to the more saturated blues, pinks, and oranges in Manuscript Diagonal (Transition Series) (2022), both exhibited in Shafie's solo presentation within these pages at Yavuz Gallery in Sydney.

Awards and Accolades

Hadieh Shafie is the recipient of the 2008, 2010 Individual Artist Grant from the Maryland State Council, the 2009 Mary Sayers Baker Award, the 2010 Franz and Virginia Bader Fund, and the Alumni Award at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Shafie was also a nominee for the 2011 Jameel Prize at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and Anonymous Was a Woman in 2017.

Exhibitions

Hadieh Shafie has exhibited widely.

Solo exhibitions include within these pages, Yavuz Gallery, Sydney (2022); Surfaced, Leila Heller Gallery, New York (2015); Ketab (Book), XVA Gallery, Dubai (2011).

Group exhibitions include She Says: Women, Words and Power, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (2021);"I open my eyes and see myself under a tree laden with fruit that I cannot name", Center for Book Arts, New York (2020); Contemporary Art of the Middle East, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2016).

Website and Instagram

The artist's website can be found here, and her Instagram here.

Elaine YJ Zheng | Ocula | 2022

Hadieh Shafie
featured artworks

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Red (Quinacridone Red) 《红》 by Hadieh Shafie contemporary artwork works on paper, mixed media
Hadieh Shafie Red (Quinacridone Red) 《红》, 2023 Stacked and rolled paper, ink, acrylic
Ames Yavuz Request Price & Availability
Manuscript 5 by Hadieh Shafie contemporary artwork works on paper, sculpture, drawing
Hadieh Shafie Manuscript 5, 2023 Rolled paper containing handwritten and printed Farsi text, water-based ink and acrylics
39.4 x 31.8 x 8.89 cm
Sold
Ames Yavuz
Seven Colors by Hadieh Shafie contemporary artwork works on paper, sculpture
Hadieh Shafie Seven Colors, 2023 Rolled paper containing handwritten and printed Farsi text, water-based ink and acrylics
39.4 x 31.8 x 8.89 cm
Ames Yavuz Request Price & Availability
Black Spike by Hadieh Shafie contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, sculpture, drawing
Hadieh Shafie Black Spike, 2022 Rolled and stacked paper containing handwritten and printed Farsi text, water-based ink and acrylics
39.4 x 31.8 x 16.51 cm
Ames Yavuz Request Price & Availability
White Spike by Hadieh Shafie contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, sculpture, drawing
Hadieh Shafie White Spike, 2022 Rolled and stacked paper containing handwritten and printed Farsi text, water-based ink and acrylics
39.4 x 31.8 x 16.51 cm
Sold
Ames Yavuz
Manuscript 3 by Hadieh Shafie contemporary artwork sculpture
Hadieh Shafie Manuscript 3, 2022 Rolled and stacked paper containing handwritten and printed Farsi text, water-based ink and acrylics
39.4 x 31.8 x 8.89 cm
Sold
Ames Yavuz
Manuscript Zig Zag 2 by Hadieh Shafie contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, sculpture, drawing
Hadieh Shafie Manuscript Zig Zag 2, 2022 Rolled and stacked paper containing handwritten and printed Farsi text, water-based ink and acrylics
39.4 x 31.8 x 8.89 cm
Sold
Ames Yavuz
Fragments in White (Transition Series) by Hadieh Shafie contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, sculpture, drawing
Hadieh Shafie Fragments in White (Transition Series), 2022 Stacked, rolled and spiked paper with embedded handwritten and printed text, Ink and acrylics
156 x 110 x 14 cm
Ames Yavuz Request Price & Availability
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Ames Yavuz contemporary art gallery in Singapore
Ames Yavuz Sydney, Singapore
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