28 May 2021
Shahina Jaffer Interview
Shahina Jaffer is not only a fine and developed artist, but an intellectual and active person towards the social and cultural scene. She considers art sort of a universal language and she has the courage and audacity to transfer that in her style. The result is an extremely pathological and emotional style, abstract and subjective, therefore opened to different interpretation from the viewer. This builds up a sort of interaction between the parties, the artist/artwork and the viewer and this interaction is completely driven by the perception the viewer has of her talent.
Carlo Tozzi, st-Art founder and art director
Where have you grown up?
I grew up in a small town in Surrey England, called Hersham, Walton on Thames, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by open fields and the river Thames, and this is where I formed a strong connection to nature. That still Influences many aspects of my work.
A lot of my creative projects include aspects of social inclusion, because from a young age, I understood that art is a universal language, that can transcend barriers and also help us relate to people from different backgrounds.
At the age of 8 years old, I was introduced to my first art mentor, Mr Payne, a customer, who saw me drawing in the shop and he told my mum, that I had tremendous creative potential.
Mr Payne, taught me about different mediums, perspectives and composition. He taught me landscape painting in oil colour. This experience became something, that I would later rely on at Saint Martins school of art.
What is your artistic background?
St Martin’s School of Art, London, England graduate. Over the span of my career I have presented my work in exhibitions worldwide, including London, Barcelona, New York, Mexico City and Genoa, and recently added to this list with her exhibition at the Virtual Burning Man 2020 festival. My artistic output pivots primarily on perception, encompassing all natural phenomena, be it corporeal or celestial. Using paint, water and the weather as conductive energy, my practice focuses on the exploration of movement – allowing paint to flow, uninterrupted and without interference. My creative exploration combined with my expansive expertise on human behaviours breaks traditional boundaries, revealing a deeper meaning in my work that could be overlooked without due attention. I have described my unique perspective in an interactive TEDx talk called “The Art of Perception”.
How would you describe your art style?
By harnessing my diverse background in art and marketing, I have produced a body of work based on the intellectual interpretation of these two, distinct experiences. With a focus on the exploration of movement – allowing paint to flow, uninterrupted, without interference – I use paint and water as a conductive energy. By applying imagination, nature and science in a precise fashion, often incorporating weather as both subject and tool, I have learnt to capture the movement of the rain and the unique imprints of the snow, I know how to use wind and air to help the paint naturally flow. I spend time with an astrophysicist and he helped me see the signs of weather conditions that I’m now able to visually capture in a collection of over 25 paintings called the natural collection.
I specialize in abstract art and observation. My main focus is the exploration of movement and perception – a fascination informed by my career in consumer marketing. With expansive expertise on human behaviours and tendencies, I really resonate with Degas’ idea that art “is not what you see, but what you make others see”. My image making is centred on the encounter: the crucial moment between the artist and the observer. My artistic output encourages and investigates the encounter between artist and observer. I firmly believe that art should be an interactive experience in which the viewer is sent on a visual voyage to explore the depths of their own perception and ignites their individual imagination.
During lockdown to overcome the challenge of physical connection, I have moved into the realms of virtual reality and I exhibited at Burning Man 2020, I delved into the omnipresence of hidden imagery in the world around us – in nature, in advertising, in architecture and in art. Now with Burning Man under my belt, I’m looking forward to the launch of the Stereognosis Project exhibition, where we will be curating and exhibiting pieces from the series of art workshops we has been coordinating over Zoom in collaboration with CSM and BlindAid since the start of Lockdown.
What inspires you to produce art?
It is said that, the job of an artist is to take mundane forms of reality—whether a facial expression or a bowl of fruit—and make those forms irresistible to the human brain. My artwork is reflective in nature and I deploy purposeful abstract techniques and specialist fusions to create images that allow the viewer to form their own narrative and have a visual dialogue based on their own creative voyage. Ramachandran and Histein observe that “a puzzle picture may paradoxically be more alluring than one in which the message is obvious.”. I want to expand the image beyond the mind’s limitation and preconditioning.
Many of my works incorporate hidden messages that are revealed by careful examination or through illumination .I’m now exploring heat sensitivity through thermochromics, which is the reversible change in the colour of a compound when it is heated or cooled. This adds another dimension to my practice. I hope that my artwork communicates feelings of love, peace, joy and harmony. This is what I feel when I make my work.
Which artists mostly have influenced your art?
I’m influenced by a vast variety of artists and each for different reasons, Most artists would agree that France is a place to come to be inspired and noticed. It is no surprise that so many fantastic movements have been formed in France. One of my favourites, is Fauvism originating in Collioure, the South of France, When Henri Matisse and André Derain worked together. I adore the freedom of expression Fauvism offers and the endless fascination with the juxtaposition of bold contrasting colours. This is furthered by the feeling of empowerment felt when I apply paint directly on to the surface. Fauvism is a major influence and I use the technique extensively in my own practice. I admire the collaboration between Henri Matisse and André Derain and I encourage the same collaboration in my own practice and I work closely with fellow artists. I find that my collective called art247 is the biggest influence on my work, I feel very fortunate to be able to reach-out to artists, like Margarita Morales and Frank Roters to ask for opinions about my work. Of course, I’m equally inspired by the usual suspects, like Lichtenstein and Warhol, because I qualified as a print maker and often, I look to their work to see how I can continue to stretch my work into new fields. My latest fascination has been creating
Printwork effects with less traditional methodology. I like Degas, and it is because of his saying Art is not what you see, but what you make others see, I started to explore with different creative expressions and finding fusion techniques. But two very powerful influences on my work are the legendary Faith Ringgold, who Shows me that power of resilience.
What are the s projects you have not done yet?
I have been fortunate to be involved in many social inclusion project like Dialogue hub, a cafe where deaf and hearing-impaired people are trained to become baristas, and customers will order their drinks in British Sign Language with the assistance of the assets and signage around them. It will be the first of its kind in the UK with a very strong commitment to social inclusion. I display my artwork in the café, the founder’s liked my artwork as it transcends barriers, I also help bring together unrepresented communities through the creative inclusion projects. The work I’d love to do, is manage creative projects which help bring alive and to the forefront, the true creative nature of London, much like Amsterdam, we have a thriving arts community and I would like to work on creative projects to help showcase the amazing talent, that’s hidden all around our wonderful city. I would also like to see more cohesion of household named artists, working in collaboration and sharing airtime with emerging artists and especially artists from underrepresented communities.
Check available artworks of Shahina Jaffer.
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