American Contemporary Art
Letter from Washington, DC
by F. Lennox Campello
Around the District, artist Hadieh Shafie is on a good streak right now. To start, Bruce Helander, Editor-in-Chief of The Art Economist and a White House Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, recently picked ten artists to watch in an article for The Huffington Post and Hadieh Shafie was one of the chosen ten. Shafie is currently also nominated for the London’s Victoria & Albert Museum's prestigious Jameel Prize 2011. She recently received the Franz Bader Award in the DC region. Finally, this talented artist's solo exhibition titled The Sweet Turning of the Page, is currently on exhibition at Morton Fine Art (1781 Florida Ave, NW at 18th & U Street in DC) through June 3. This Iranian-born artist says that a constant element of her work has been "the significance of process, repetition and time all rooted in the influence of Islamic art & craft." Her ink and paper paintings are the end result of tightly scrolled and brightly colored rolls of paper which often hide hand-written text by the artist. While one is initially tempted to associate her work with Op-Art, Hadieh's intelligent and coherent marriage of pure color with a deeply personal cultural branding, pushes her artwork beyond the pure eye candy of that mode and begins to explore the process of adding a new contemporary dialogue to what can be lossely described as Islamic-influenced art. There's something powerful in these works — the tightly coiled colored rolls hide words, much like women in the tightly coiled world of many Islamic nations are forced to hide their words and opinions, especially in the brutal theocracy of her native Iran. There's an Orwellian aspect to these works with a touch of Washington Color School that makes them deliver an unique perspective to the spectacular artistic diversity of the nation's capital. It is no accident that Hadieh's works have come to national prominence originating from the DMV...
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