Raoof Haghighi: Beyond Realms of Imagination 18th April – 28 April, 2024 A Gallery 2 Motcomb St Knightsbridge London, SW1X 8JU
Raoof Haghighi’s London exhibition explores how the artists’ social-media connection to the viewer has taken his art out of the realms of his imagination, into an exploration of ours.
Born in Iran, but living in the UK since 1995, Raoof won the Royal Society of Miniature Painters Award, took part in the Threadneedle Prize 2012, 2013 & 2014 and was exhibited multiple times at the BP Portrait Award and by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. But it’s Raoof’s interaction on Instagram, where he has 250,000 followers, that his works have taken the direction which inspired this exhibition – to a place of algorithms and feedback-loops whispering insight into the zeitgeist, guiding his pencil and brush to make marks that don’t just glimpse our subconscious, but are made in-pact with the hive-mind.
Raoof’s most popular drawing while working for this Central London exhibition, staged by A Gallery in mid-April 2024, is “Male Brain Anatomy”, which gained 24,000 likes. It serves as both an example of Raoof’s willingness to communicate an uncomfortable lizard-brain truth, and also that where people’s minds (and Insta thumbs) go, Raoof’s pencil follows. One of Raoof’s most liked work on Instagram last year, was the centre-piece for his call for freedom for women in Iran – the Adam and Eve series.
“Beyond Realms of Imagination” features a screen for Raoof’s TikTok animations, exploring how Raoof’s interaction with his audience – a human algorithm – learning from likes – has developing a form of art beyond realms of his own i-magination, into our-magination.
The show explores the irony that, the more attention Raoof gives a work, often the less attention it gets. His 6 month labour-of-love, one-hair-brush, oil on canvas portrait, gained 4,200 likes. In contrast – providing commentary on the audience attention-span compared with the artists’ – his 10 second TikTok animation to the tune of “Love You So, The King Khan and BBQ Show”, got 9 million views and 865,000 likes.
Raoof Haghighi comes from a family of 8 artists – a long history of Persian poetry that penetrates his soul – so while “Beyond Realms of Imagination” explores the artists’ relationship with social-media, it’s his time away from it, in reflective meditation, which illustrates how he’s able to both play the game and be guided by the machine, yet, via use of his (fast-degrading in society, because of social-media) imagination, escape beyond its attention-grabbing claws
Raoof Haghighi says “My work often combines contemporary ideas with traditional techniques and is built upon strong cultural traditions as well as my interest in the changing world of today. My paintings often question the attitudes, fears, conflicts, incompatibilities and unwritten rules which have formed our environment and our behaviour within it.”
Raoof Haghighi: Beyond Realms of Imagination opens on the 18th of April until the 28th of April, 2024 at A Gallery
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