Haafiz Shahimi


9 - 31 Mar 2024

Haafiz Shahimi, born in Kedah, Malaysia, in 1986, graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Arts from UiTM Shah Alam in 2011. His artistic journey encompasses various disciplines, including painting, installation, and performing arts. Since 2014, he has delved into the techniques of creating artworks with fire, exploring pyrography printing and direct fire burning, thereby expanding the scope and scale of his artwork.

Haafiz has become synonymous with a unique style of pyrography printmaking, deeply rooted in Malaysia's print and textile traditions. Initially inspired by batik printing, he mimicked cultural and mythological imagery onto metal blocks, creating personalized 'matrices' that, when heated, were applied to canvas and jute surfaces. While drawing clear parallels with batik production, he soon realized that temperature variations could alter the final visual effect, prompting him to experiment further.

Merging the laws of thermodynamics with the formal aspects of art production, including drawing, painting, and print, Haafiz unveiled a fascination with duality: science/mythology, East/West, physics/philosophy. Consequently, he developed a variety of printing techniques, including pyrography print, inverted burn, direct petrol burn, and chemical burning.

In 2022, Haafiz continued his exploration of materiality in his solo exhibition, "Covenant." Shifting from using metal plates as printmaking matrices, he transformed them into an art form through plasma cut, automotive paint, and chemical rust on metal. This artistic evolution reflects his contemplative thoughts and perspectives on Abrahamic religion and beliefs.

Over the span of two years, Haafiz has embarked on a dynamic journey of technical innovation and artistic exploration, transitioning from his study of automotive paint on metal to an inventive exploration involving automotive paint on canvas, skillfully combined with his pyro techniques. Initially experimenting with the application of automotive paint on metal—a process akin to the meticulous painting of cars—Haafiz found the rigid surface more controllable in terms of color application. However, his latest venture involves applying automotive paint to the softer surfaces of jute or canvas, a mastery that took years to develop. Understanding the fluidity and materiality of automotive paint on soft surfaces presented a new set of challenges, underscoring Haafiz's commitment to pushing artistic boundaries.

Motivated by a quest for bold and vibrant colors that could harmonize with his pyro techniques, Haafiz explored various substances. While acrylic and oil paints posed limitations, fabric dye emerged as a promising medium. Initial use mimicked traditional batik dyeing methods, yielding earthy tones. However, Haafiz's current development in fabric dye has elevated the process. He now precisely controls color intensity and tonal values, demonstrating a level of mastery akin to that of a chemist carefully balancing powder dye proportions with solvent liquids for the desired effect after drying.

In the contemporary art scene, automotive paint has piqued the interest of many artists due to its intensity, vibrancy, and special reflective quality. Haafiz, however, envisioned the potential of this industrial medium to transcend its conventional use. Through the fusion of automotive paint with his pyro techniques—burning directly onto the paint surface—Haafiz has crafted a series of works that exemplify this innovative approach. “Iron Flower” in this new series serves as a clear example, where intense direct burning is applied to the hyper silver color of the automotive paint, resulting in accidental markings juxtaposed with deliberate construction and deconstruction of visuals.

Notably, in this latest series, Haafiz revisits a rare and painstaking process after a decade: pyrography with a rod to create lines reminiscent of charcoal drawings. The culmination of his 13- year artistic journey, the series titled "Humanimal," comprises 17 works that showcase the evolution and fusion of his various techniques into a harmonious and captivating body of work.

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