Shaheer Zazai is an Afghan-Canadian artist with a current studio practice both in painting and digital media. Zazai received a BFA from OCAD University in 2011 and was artist in residence at OCAD University as part of the Digital Painting Atelier in 2015. Zazai’s practice focuses on exploring and attempting to investigate the development of cultural identity in the present geopolitical climate and diaspora. The digital works revolve around Microsoft Word and imagery reminiscent of traditional Afghan carpets. Through mimicking carpet-making methods, Zazai creates his own designs in Microsoft Word, where every knot of a carpet is translated into a typed character. While the digital is a process based exploration, the paintings have been an internal investigation into vulnerability and fear.
Over the years Zazai’s material vocabulary has expanded into textile work, site-specific public art installations and video works with his lens becoming self-reflective. Zazai is a recipient of Ontario Arts Council grants and he was a finalist for EQ Bank’s Emerging Digital Artist Award in 2018. Since graduating, Zazai has had several solo and group exhibitions such as those at the Capacity 3 Gallery, CAFKA Biennial 2019, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant., Double Happiness Projects and Patel Brown Gallery. His digital works have been covered by CBC Arts in 2018, Ajam Media Collective in 2019 and Globe and Mail in 2020.
Some of his recent notable exhibitions include a solo exhibition at the Agha Khan Museum in Toronto, participation at a group exhibition at Doris McCarthy Gallery, and a solo exhibition at Owens Art Gallery as part of visiting artist program at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick.