Tag Archives: Jameel Prize

Iranian Identity and Expression in Art

12 Sep

Hadieh Shafie, an Iranian-born artist who incorporates Farsi calligraphy and repeating patterns into her art, is currently exhibiting her work at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

AAM takes a closer look at Shafie’s work with a visit to her studio and an exploration of the links between identity and expression.


Hadieh Shafie Interview in Farsi

6 Sep

This video was filmed for Voice of America in Farsi. It has wonderful documentation of her recent solo exhibition at Morton Fine Art, The Sweet Turning of the Page.  Visit  http://www.mortonfineart.com  for available artwork by this internationally renowned Iranian-born artist.  Another interview in English will be featured in next week’s MFA blog.

DC Magazine July 2011 Article on MFA’s Hadieh Shafie

7 Jul

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All Wound Up

Local Artist Hadieh Shafie is on a roll, showing to packed galleries in DC and abroad

By Tiffany Jow

At the recent opening of Hadieh Shafie’s solo show at Washington’s Morton Fine Art (mortonfineart.com), the gallery was filled to the gills with patrons keen to glimpse the rising star. Surrounded by her most recent body of work – assemblages of thousands of tiny hand-dyed, meticulously wound paper scrolls- the artist revelled in the reveal of the pieces that have earned her international attention.

At 42, the Baltimore-based, DC-represented talent finds herself suddenly center stage, having been short-listed for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s esteemed Jameel Prize, an international award for creatives roused by Islamic traditions of craft and design. The London megapost crowns a winner every two years, with Iraqi starchitect Zaha Hadid as the prize’s patron. In July, Shafie’s 3-D scroll works will be included in a two-month exhibition of all 10 contenders at the V&A. If she wins the gold in September, her pieces will travel around the world, gaining intense international exposure.

In the limelight or not, the tenderness comprising each of Shafie’s creations demands a closer look. For each work, she tirelessly inscribes the word eshghe (the Farsi word for “love”) onto every inch of the thin paper strips dyed at the edges and curled into tight circles. Their titles – “10250 Pages”, “12001 Pages,” and “22500 Pages”- reflect the number of paper strips within each opus. Unlike the iconic hoops of Jasper Johns and Kenneth Noland, Shafie’s wheels are spun using method, repetition and time, all rooted in the artistic sway of her native Iran. “The language of love is reflected in Hadieh’s work,” says the V&A’s Salma Tuqan, a co-curator for the Jameel Prize exhibition. “It’s the story of its creation and meditative process that allows the work to breathe and take on life.”

Having moved from Iran to Maryland at 14, Shafie was consistently encouraged to pursue her creativity. “Even in the most difficult economic times, my mom would take me across town to study with a private art teacher,” says Shafie, who went on to attend Pratt Institute School of Art and Design.

“One of my fondest childhood memories is decorating cookies with my grandmother, placing little dots of saffron in the center,” she says. That same power of repetition is echoed in her contemporary scrolls, whose methodical nature makes for creative addiction. “It’s so much about control, while simultaneously letting go and leaving things to chance,” she says.

Shafie’s representation at MFA, which she gleaned after owner and chief curator Amy Morton tapped her for a pop-up exhibition last year, is testament to why she’s on the radar of the international circuit. “Hadieh’s artistic identity is authentic, resourceful and culturally enhanced,” Morton says.

The artist’s global credentials have also caught the eye of several District collectors, who just can’t get enough. “Hadieh represents all that is wonderful about DC as a thriving art destination,” Morton says. “Its inspiring to see an artist span nationally and internationally, both in terms of collector acquisition and recognition.” In many ways, then, Shafie has already won the prize.

Hadieh Shafie at Morton Fine Art, Reviewed

10 May

Arts Desk

Hadieh Shafie at Morton Fine Art, Reviewed

Posted by John Anderson , The Washington City Paper, on May. 9, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Mention the circle, and two giants of contemporary art spring to mind: Jasper Johns and Kenneth Noland. For D.C., Noland is the foremost champion of the circle, since his career, and his circles, began here in the 1950s (perhaps from driving around them so often in his cab). It’s a familiar motif, and one that defies easy reinvention. That’s why the work of Hadieh Shafie is so surprising.

Shafie’s “scroll paintings” have made up much of her work of the last decade, but some of her ink and acrylic drawings will remind audiences of Noland. Works like “Still of the Turn” and “Keep on Turning” build concentric bands of rich color around a radius that appears to be a hole punched in the center of the paper. The holes could be large enough for the knob of a record player turntable to fit through.

Hadieh Shafie, '10400'

Hadieh Shafie, '10400'

Tom Wolfe referred to Noland in The Painted Word as “the fastest painter alive.” This might also apply to Shafie’s drawings, if they weren’t done with love. Literally: Shafie has written the word love in Farsi (“eshghe”) across and down the drawings. In “Radiate Out” and “Radiate In,” “eshghe” emerges from the center, becoming darker or lighter as the words near the edge.

On her website, Shafie recalls making little cookies with her grandmother, each the size of a quarter, and dotting each precisely in the center with saffron. Her earliest experience of the power of repetition carries through in each piece, and echoes the traditions of her Islamic heritage. The paintings on the wall are made up of hundreds of tiny bulls-eyes, not unlike the drawings. However, upon closer inspection there is a physical depth to each work. The paintings are assemblages of thousands of little paper scrolls, tightly and meticulously wound, their edges dyed. Inside the scrolls, one word can be read: “eshghe.” Through every inch of every scroll, the word “eshghe” is written again and again, like a breath: essential to the work and yet as unnoticeable as one’s own respiration. The title of each work is a number: 10250 pages, 12001 pages, 22500 pages. Each references the number of pages contained within each work; the pages are wound to make the scrolls. All told, Safie uses hundreds, if not thousands of scrolls in a work.

Clearly Shafie, an Iranian-born artist, approaches each work mindful of her past and her identity. But the diligence it takes to roll thousands of tiny scrolls, each with hand-painted edges and repetitiously inscribed with the word “love,” might seem dreadfully dull. However, how many traditions did our ancestors carry with them to this country? Mexican families might make a day of making hundreds of enchiladas. Chinese families might take a day to make hundreds of egg rolls. Italian families might take a day to make hundreds of ravioli or gnocchi. Some traditions still get passed down through generations; for Shafie, the tradition has transgressed the kitchen and found its way into the studio. The result is not something we consume with the mouth, but rather with the eye. Both her circular and rectilinear compositions are loud and active with frenzied rhythms of differing circumferences, colors, and color combinations. They are eye-candy, easily consumed, and filled with that ingredient with which all good dishes are made: love.

Huffington Post Top Ten Artists to Watch – Image #6 Hadieh Shafie!

27 Apr
Hadieh Shafie '12245 Pages' (detail), scroll artwork, 30"x30"

Hadieh Shafie '12245 Pages' (detail), scroll artwork, 30"x30"

Need I say more? This is a very exciting year for MFA artist, Hadieh Shafie! Not only has she been shortlisted for the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Jameel Prize (London), but as of today she has also been featured on the Huffington Post’s Top Ten Artists to Watch list!  Her solo exhibition of scroll artworks and drawings titled The Sweet Turning of the Page opens at Morton Fine Art on Friday, May 6th. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet this exceptional artist – she will be in attendance!


Hadieh Shafie on V&A shortlist for Jameel Prize 2011

17 Mar
Hadieh Shafie, '1890', 30"x30"x3", paper, ink, acrylic, printed & handwritten Farsi text

Hadieh Shafie, '1890', 30"x30"x3", paper, ink, acrylic, printed & handwritten Farsi text

I am very proud to announce that MFA artist Hadieh Shafie has been shortlisted for the Victoria & Albert Museum’s prestigious Jameel Prize 2011.  Nearly 200 nominations for the Jameel Prize 2011 were received and a panel of judges, chaired by V&A Director, Sir Mark Jones, selected the shortlist of 10 artists and designers.  The exhibition of artworks will be on view at the V&A from 21 July to 25 September, 2011. The winner of the Jameel Prize will be announced on 12 September 2011.

Hadieh Shafie (Baltimore, b. Iran) will show two new works, 22500 (2011) and 26000 Pages (2011) which are a continuation of her signature paper scroll series.  Made up of 22,500 and 26,000 strips of paper, each scroll is marked with printed and hand-written Farsi text, then tightly rolled into concentric circled, concealing or revealing different elements. Shafie’s paper scroll works demonstrate a constant element of her work which is the significance of process, repetition and time, all rooted in the influence of Islamic art and craft.

Launched in 2009, the Jameel Prize is an  international art prize for contemporary artists and designers inspired by Islamic traditions of craft and design.  The prize was conceived after the renovation of the V&A’s Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art, which opened in 2006. The gallery is an outstanding presentation of the rich artistic heritage of the Islamic world, and the prize aims to raise awareness of the thriving interaction between contemporary practice and this great historical heritage.  The Jameel Prize 2011 exhibition will embark on an international tour, beginning at the Istitut du Monde Arabe in Paris (France) and then traveling to Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Damascus (Syria), Beiteddine (Lenanon), Sharjah (UAE), Istanbul (Turkey) and Casablanca (Morocco).

Other shortlisted artists include: Noor Ali Chagani, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Bita Ghezelayagh, Babak Golkar, Hayv Kahraman, Aisha Khalid, Rachid Koraichi, Hazem El Mestikawy and Soody Sharifi.

Hadieh Shafie, '12003', 30"x30"x3", paper, ink, acrylic, printed & handwritten Farsi text

Hadieh Shafie, '12003', 30"x30"x3", paper, ink, acrylic, printed & handwritten Farsi text

Hadieh Shafie, '12003' (detail)

Hadieh Shafie, '12003' (detail)