‘DOMINION’ showcases Hadieh Shafie’s powerful works at Arts West Gallery, Melbourne

16 Nov 2023

DOMINION brings together six contemporary artists with artworks from the collections of the University of Melbourne, and The Johnston Collection, to reinvigorate notions of dominion as a space for power which exists beyond confines of time and the singular notion of humanity.

Responding to the visionary cosmic imaginings of Romantic artists William Blake and John Martin. Post-colonial discourses remain entangled in the remnants of Romanticism in a beautiful and bewildering spiral which cuts to the heart of our shared humanity.

Hadieh Shafie presents two works in this exhibition, Manuscript Diagonal (Transition Series) and Black Spike, in which her meticulously stacked and rolled pages remind us that this story is something that is both hidden and known. Inside these pages, Shafie writes the word eshgh (love) repetitively, as though coaxing, or willing us to choose love. The artist constructs intricate designs with low-relief paper sculpture that are reminiscent of traditional Middle Eastern art. Both process-oriented and impossibly refined, Shafie’s skillful works are often monumental in scale, overwhelming the viewer with a visual feast of colour.

Curated by Nur Shkembi, DOMINION, breaches concepts of both the political and sublime to reveal the corporeal being beyond the temporal and sub-celestial. The subjectivities arising out of the Enlightenment, and subsequently problematised in European Romanticism, are renegotiated through the narratives of the artists, not as a condition of the past, rather as a revelation or truth which has been cloaked in the passages of time.

Artists include: Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Safdar Ahmed, Richard Bell, Penny Byrne, and Michael Riley.

DOMINION will be on view at Arts West Gallery, University of Melbourne until 30 June 2024.