I am usually sceptical about visiting exhibitions whose photos I have seen thousands of times on the profiles of all London curators and critics. Still, this time I was surprised very positively. For a long time, the name Shafahi was repeated in conversations with my artistic friends, and his works occasionally flashed on my phone screen. I love when the artworks of artists whose development I observe on Instagram emerge into my reality and amaze me with their physicality.
It was obvious, even from a distance, that the exhibition at the VITRINE Gallery would be unique - it was already getting dark when I got there, so fluorescent colours started to brighten up. I was pleased to discover that these 3D printed-looking sculptures (at least of Instagram) have such a fluffy texture made with flocking. The artist shared a lot about his process and materials in the printout, which doesn't happen very often. Artists represented in galleries like to keep secrets of the process to themselves. I'm not surprised. As an artist, I understand how much time and failure it takes to find this unique technique or solution. However, I don't think anyone could repeat or "steal" Shafahi's originality even by using the same materials and process, as his work is deeply rooted in personal experiences, relationships with parents and mythological references.
As I entered the VITRINE Gallery, I was greeted by a pair of demonic eyes from the artwork How deep are your eyes? and hypnotised by the Heirloom Velvet spinning sculpture. Initially, I thought that the glowing green was some kind of black magic, but the press release quickly dispelled my fear. It was UV light! Still, it was a fricking excellent effect!
About the artworks: go and see them. My words won't describe the texture, colours, shapes and stories. The artist's fantasy world and symbolism of different animals really pulled me in.
Regarding the interview, read it once you leave the space. At least that's what I did; it felt like reliving the exhibition in my head. It's great that the gallery and artist used plain language when they could easily bomb us with philosophical sentences about the meaning of life, technological terminology and historical references. I loved that the interview made me feel I could become great friends with the artist. Shafahi opened his heart and mind to us and unrevealed his secrets. It was intimate, beautiful and generous. That's also why I regret that the interview wasn't in the form of a small publication to really respect and honour the artist and his work. I hope we are going to see more of Mamali Shafahi's work in the UK. So many of us are torn apart between the modern, digital world and longing for our childhood, wild and innocent adventures.
Great solo show!
Open until December 17, 2022.