From a wealthy Iranian family, Shafahi became a professional wrestler, but was forced to stop wrestling during the Iranian revolution and took to gambling. "I discovered playing cards, [that] slowly took over my life," he explained in a recent interview by Jerry Saltz, art critic for New York Magazine.
Ten years ago his son, Mamali, asked Shafahi to make a drawing, and also asked for a few drops of his sperm, as a part of Mamali’s long-term art project, Daddy Sperm. Shafahi has been drawing ever since. “I gave my sperm, and my son Mamali was created. Then my son gave birth to me as an artist,” Shafahi said.
Shafahi continually creates art in order to bring a sense of equilibrium to his life. He draws inspiration from literature, Khayyam poems, film, and world events; by combining these influences with his surrealistic figures and landscapes, he has created a unique visual language. His work combines the dreamlike and the erotic into whimsical, eccentric compositions. He considers this ongoing creative practice a continuous body of work. "Persian culture is sexual and gluttonous. All texts are about desire... My work in four words: sexual, organic, opulent, vivid,” Shafahi explained in New York Magazine.
Shafahi’s work has been exhibited throughout the world, in New York, Berlin, Pistoia, and, most recently, in “City Prince/sses” at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, June 21 – September 8, 2019. Shafahi is currently being exhibited at Club Rhubarb in Manhattan. James Barron Art has show Shafahi’s work four times at the Outsider Art Fair.
Shafahi’s book, The Diary of a Gambler, will be available in Troutbeck’s shop.