Fires of creation

20 Feb 2020 / 10:30 H.

IN 2014, a relatively fresh-faced artist named Haafiz Shahimi made his mark in the art world with his solo Raising Awareness Towards Greater Existence (RAGE) exhibition, putting forth his art of pyrography printmaking for the world to behold.

Seen as a prodigy in printmaking, Haafiz has spent the last six years since his first exhibition perfecting his craft. Just like the volatile element he uses as his tool, the artist refuses to stay still, instead spreading his craft further upon the canvas of innovation.

From now to Mar 15, Haafiz’s second exhibition is on display in the same location as his first exhibition, at Core Design Gallery in Subang.

Dubbed AWAS, the exhibition will feature the artist’s expanded works that were created with his improved pyrographic repertoire.

Drawn to the heat

While he was studying in Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Haafiz majored in printmaking, which eventually led him to research the possibility of incorporating thermodynamics into the traditional artform, effectively combining principals of physics with visual arts.

He said: “At that time, it was not a common thing. I was inspired by outside artists and a movement called inter-discipline, which is where artists who come from other backgrounds such as science and architecture cross their disciplines to make art.

“After digging in the library to find something that shares a similarity with energy exchange and transferring something from point A to point B, I came across pyrography.

“It was a term I borrowed from a traditional craft that uses a heated tip to draw on leather.”

Since then Haafiz has been experimenting, developing and showcasing his work, and finding alternative techniques to incorporate into his existing skillset – such as inverted burning and direct petrol burning – along the way.

The fire rises

Haafiz’s obsession with fire fascinated us, and the artist was happy to explain (and later demonstrate) the method to his figurative madness.

“I like the viciousness and adrenaline that comes when working with fire. As you know, fire is a destructive element that is difficult to control, especially when making art.

“How do you beautify something that is aggressive?”

Likening working with fire as the antithesis to working with water colours, Haafiz pointed out both art forms still require some understanding of the respective mediums, and the limits in controlling either.

As a natural rebel and as someone who is “angry”, as he put it, years ago, Haafiz did not like printmaking as there was no originality or innovation in it.

The limitation in conventional, traditional and orthodox printmaking forced him to evolve himself and his work.

“Printmaking is one of the most highly disciplined fields to master, as it requires you to be precise, with a system to follow obediently. I was not able to fulfill that requirement,” Haafiz admitted, laughing. “But I was challenged by my professor to take on the printmaking discipline.”

He added: “The objective of this exhibition is to compile my research after six years of experimenting with pyrography. It is also a ‘reincarnation’ of my previous works almost seven to eight years ago.

“Back during my first solo exhibition, there were a lot of my works that were done with conventional methods such as drawing and painting.

“This second exhibition is me reincarnating my old works with the new pyrography discipline”.

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