Shahin Shikhaliyev was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, the son of noted painter Talat Shikhaliyev. Raised and trained in his father’s studio, Shahin also earned a formal degree in Visual Arts from Azerbaijan State Art College. In 1989, he began exhibiting his works in Europe, the Middle East and the United States. His works are included in many private collections. Most noted for his oil paintings, Shahin’s work includes black & white drawings, etchings, and video. He also collaborates on large-scale public art projects with his wife and partner, mosaic artist Valerie Theberge.
Shahin’s recent work explores the evolutionary development of visual perception and the science of the mind. His paintings represent reality at the earliest moments of sight; the time when our eyes are just orienting toward stimulus but before objects are fully formed. He is primarily concerned with the transfer of optical energy, as well as the interplay between sight and other systems of the brain through which concept and meaning are derived. His interests extend to intuitive and emotional perception. Shahin thinks of his paintings as charged with his own energy, alive and engaged with the people and environments around them.
This interest in visual perception also informs Shahin’s teaching practice. Through lecture, demonstration, and direct instruction, he expands on formal theory and the popular practice of ‘drawing on the right side of the brain’ to help students see and paint with more depth and precision. Shahin lives and works in Washington, DC and teach with the Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts program.