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Hadieh Shafie Profile Work Biography  




On the Internet and in the Press:
  Video: Iranian Identity and Expression in Art
Art Daily
  Baltimore City Paper
  The Brown Book Journal
  Bruce Helander: Top Ten Artists to Watch
  Eastern Art Report
  Esquire Middle East
  New American Paintings 88
  The Brooklyn Rail
  Washington City Paper
  The Washington Post



"Cultural signifiers from the East and West are often conflated to create complex formal and conceptual meaning. In Hadieh Shafie's ink and paper paintings, tightly scrolled and brightly colored rolls of paper hide hand-written text by the artist. Like 1000 blooming targets a la Jasper Johns, these paintings delight with the Op-art sensation of vibrating constellations of color and intrigue, with all the mystery that hidden words hold."  Barbara O'Brien- Curator, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO
Juror's Comments New American Paintings #88

"The scroll paintings are a case in point: peering at them up close, the bits of phrases peeking out along the trunks, or half-submerged in inky dyes, convey not so much transcendence as someone else’s search for it, the visual remainders of an interiority we’ll never grasp. For all their preoccupation with the divine, these works underscore most strongly the stakes of being human and the boundaries that seal us off from one another." Emily Warner, The Brooklyn Rail


A constant element of my work is the significance of repetition, process and time. In works comprised of paper scrolls, individual strips of paper have been marked with the word “eshghe,” both hand-written and printed in Farsi. While the most direct translation of “eshghe” to English is “love” its expressive power is “passion.” I chose this word because it encompasses my longing and search for acceptance and understanding. The repetition of text, in particular the word “eshghe,” is a recurring element in much of my work of the last decade. Using concentric forms of text and material I seek to magnify its meaning.

Writing by hand on strips of paper, I repeat what is printed, filling in gaps to emphasize a particular, existing form. For each work I decide on a limited color palette. As I roll the paper the colors on the edges of the strips align, creating bands of alternating hue that stand along side one another, while at once, seeming to merge into new color formations which are often delightful surprises. I may decide to repeat the color sequence but I try to encourage myself to let go so new combinations may arise. Placing each scroll side by side, I make decisions about color and composition at every step of the work and so the process of making progresses much like a painting or drawing. What interests me is the tension between control and spontaneity that emerges at every step. During the repetitive process of adding paper strips to create individual scrolls, text and symbols are hidden within these concentric rings of material as the scroll grows outward. There are compositions of printed and handwritten text sealed in the work that sometimes I wish I could see again, that are now relinquished to the eternal turning within the work.


Early in life I had the opportunity to see the dance of the whirling dervishes. This experience had a profound influence on me and so the concentric forms of text and material take inspiration from the Sama dance of the whirling dervishes with the resulting work as the physical expression of my awe.



Hadieh Shafie