Sleeping Beauty

Haafiz Shahimi

Sleeping Beauty

Pyrography print, Charcoal, Spray Paint & Oil on Jute finished with 2K Matte paint

157cm x 308cm

2014

Written by Zoey Moo

When researching about the significance of black and white in art, Haafiz happened to come across real- life stories told by people who had experienced being in a deep coma or total blackout. Haafiz was both intrigued and unnerved at the thought of how the neocortex, also known as the part of the human brain that handles thought processes and controls the nervous system, could shut down completely leaving a person with one foot in the afterlife, so to speak.

He likens his imagination of being in a deep coma to the frozen feeling one feels when moving from a brightly lit landscape into a tunnel. At that moment, uncertainty grips the heart and one can only focus the glimpse of daylight in the distance. Likewise during a coma, there is minimal brain activity, but somehow life still continues and the inner self still exists.

His work, Sleeping Beauty, visualises this phenomenon of a blackout. The concept is in line with Haafiz’s reverse art style, whereby instead of adding on layers to build different tones and shapes, images are formed by taking away or subtracting from the layers of paint on the canvas.

The background of Sleeping Beauty is covered completely in black, allowing the foreground image to truly stand out. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel or life in the midst of hibernation is symbolised by the central butterfly image, whose body radiates with a bright glow. Ghostly stencils and pyrography-formed prints of fish swim towards the butterfly, as though drawn to the vibrations of life. As pyrography marks are irreversible, the artwork required meticulous planning before the first print could be made to minimise any errors.

Haafiz’s artwork also displays a new evolution in his pyrography technique. Pyrography, in a way, can be considered as drawing with fire, which is a destructive element. During his experiments and study of contrasts for the black-and-white exhibition, however, Haafiz began to explore the use of an opposing yet harmonious element – water.

When creating the pyrography images, he placed a layer of dampened fabric behind the jute base that keeps the surface cool and prevents it from burning. As a result, the viewers, especially those familiar with his previous pyrography works, will notice one distinct difference in this artwork: it has no holes. Featuring a haunting concept and exciting developments in the artist’s skills, there is no doubt that Sleeping Beauty is yet another memorable work by exciting young artist Haafiz Shahimi.


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