Interview: Shafina Jaffer
Luca Curci talks with Shafina Jaffer during LONDON CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR 2022, at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space.
An African artist of Indian origin, I trained in fine art at the Royal College of Art, Slade School of Art (UCL), Ruskin School of Art (Oxford University), and the Royal Academy in the Uk. My sensitivity towards nature, spirituality, and faith is articulated as versatile, varied themes in my artwork. There is always a message in my paintings. Through my practice, I aim to articulate themes of spirituality, feminism, and mysticism. I approach painting as its unique genre and use it to articulate spirituality. The artwork functions as a dynamic agent of spirituality; providing a perspective to the spectator that goes beyond religious interpretation and towards spiritual pluralism. I ornament the syntax of this methodology by experimenting with three-dimensional textures such as acrylic plaster. I enjoy the experimentation and mixing of media. This is because of my approach to artistic intention and artistic merit. My deliberation on merit provided me time to incrementally develop my style in a sensible evolution from composition to composition. As an artist, developing mindfulness towards the bridge between style and meaning is essential to resonating with my spectators. Indeed, it is the challenge of art to articulate emotion through the medium. Hence, the outcome of my practice as a whole is that my works hold depth and complex interpretive value in the eyes of the spectator. Moving forward, it is my aim to commingle and harmonize themes of spirituality, science, and philosophy in a coherent manner. By using the tragedy as an atmospheric backdrop to the subjects in my works, I aim to display how challenges, and the accompanying biological emotions associated with it, cooperate to catalyze spiritual and even profound insights into the meaning of life (or its lack of meaning).
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Shafina Jaffer – Art for me is an expression of consciousness in material form. It is the soul’s voice that sings when my hand moves on the canvas.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artwork?
SJ – The most challenging part is bridging the gap between the visual appearances of one’s art while maintaining deeper messages in one’s art. Finding the balance between providing the spectator of art with a subject of comprehension, as opposed to providing an agenda of thought, is something I put a lot of effort into in my art.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in society? And contemporary art?
SJ – The artist plays an important role in providing commentary on the cultural consciousness of society. Particularly in a society that engages in mainstream media and its accompanying sources of information. In a time when we have bombarded my multi-various news with even more varying opinions – the contemporary artist provides an opinion through abstraction. In this abstraction, their art allows the modern-day individual to inform themselves through critical analysis. Contemporary art allows us to engage in contemporary issues without the noise of powerful institutions telling us what to think when we ought to think for ourselves.
LC – What are you currently working on?
SJ – At present, I am creating a series of artworks called “Forgive Me” which combines the love for nature with parts of the human body. In this series, at first glance, the spectator is met with a focused appearance of a tree painted upon the wood. From a closer observation of the image, the viewer is provoked by the love surrounding the work around the central symbol of a tree painted on bark. At first, it appears as the trunk of a tree but upon closer reflection, the symbolism is understood. This interpretation purposefully calls to attention that nature ensures nature’s sacredness of life.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
SJ – Through my practice, I am inspired by themes of spirituality, feminism, and mysticism. These are my preferred subjects, especially when I can commingle all three. I primarily use the genre of fine art as my medium of choice in expressing these themes. As an artist, developing mindfulness towards the bridge between style and meaning is essential to resonating with my spectators. I draw much inspiration from the works of classical artists and from spiritual mystics.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this event? How is it connected to the theme of the entire exhibition?
SJ – The artwork I have submitted is titled “Union in Diversity”, using the medium of oil paint on an A2 canvas. The theme of this exhibition is contemporary art. This work of mine shows 3 women with their backs turned, facing away from the spectator. However, a closer inspection of the work shows that all 3 women in the painting have their heads conjoined. This was purposefully done in this way in order to show the shared experience of being a woman, an experience that all women from all cultures, economic classes, and geographies share. The experience of being a Mother, the experience of being oppressed, and the experience of being told that you are defined by your biology. In a world where the treatment of women is coming increasingly into focus, I aim to interact with this contemporary issue through such a contemporary feminist subject.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
SJ – In the work, the backs of the subjects are turned away. This is to show the thematic point that the experience of being a woman is unique, particularly for women in general. The effort that the spectator must put in to deduce this moral message in my work is, to me, the act of the spectator not turning the subjects towards them – revealing their faces – but rather the spectator joining the in facing forward instead. Facing towards what the subjects are looking at: a better path forward.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
SJ – The ITSLIQUID platform is a great tool for artists across a variety of disciplines and genres to be able to connect with shows at reputable institutions with exhibitions that resonate with an artist’s thematic style or meaning. For an artist like myself, it is a useful platform and tool for exhibiting art across cultural hubs and for gaining access to a culturally diverse range of audiences.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
SJ – Yes, I do think that ITSLIQUID can represent an opportunity for artists. With the platform being digitally accessible and having a presence across many countries – it is a strong channel for artists of different backgrounds to showcase their works to the world.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
SJ – Yes I do. The ITSLIQUID team has been very proficient in the handling & displaying of my artworks. The response time to queries was short & overall it has been a good experience entering the exhibition.