Banner image: A landscape painting with a large figure bending over backwards touching the floor with their foot and head. The painting is dark in colour with large watery brush strokes.


Latest Shape collaboration: Shadi was one of the artists for the Shape Open 2021 in the exhibition 'All Bound Together?'.

Artist Statement: Shadi paints large self-portraits that encapsulate the present, examining the space between the mundane and the spiritual. Each painting documents a single hazy moment in time. “I explore memories, emotions, and objects that form a still moment.”

Working in rapid motions and strokes and using acrylic paint on canvas, left un-stretched, Shadi works fast to avoid their thoughts slipping, contending with their own cognition and memory.

“This idea of discomfort, both sensory and emotional, is my main focus when painting. My paintings are archives of uncomfortable memories, some humorous and others painful. Paint is the perfect medium for archiving consciousness. It intensifies or hides aspects of memory in a way that mirrors the process of remembering. Painting and remembering both are attempts at reconstructing our imperfect perceptions.”

Shadi’s self-portraits are also reconstructions, developed through a process of collecting images, memes, and film stills to build a figure. A gymnast’s contorted limbs and a crying celebrity’s drooping mouth.

“I fuse all the body parts to create a monster of my embodied self at that moment. This fusion occurs directly on the canvas, where I compile these images with a brush, using a fluid mixture of ink, acrylic paint and soda.”

Shadi makes use of paint to escape from the constraints of language. Painting allows them to invent genderless figures, ones that embody an ambiguity that language rarely grants. This ambiguity is used to question Shadi’s own ideas on gender and sexuality. Obscurity also allows breathing room for the viewer to connect with the artwork. Shadi’s self-portraits become portraits of anyone who perceives them.

A landscape painting with a large figure bending over backwards touching the floor with their foot and head. The painting is dark in colour with large watery brush strokes.

'Dipped myself a little too deep' by Shadi Al-Atallah

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