Faces and colours

March 25, 2020

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FOUR of the artworks on display.—White Star
FOUR of the artworks on display.—White Star

KARACHI: Wahab Jaffer is an artist with awe-inspiring credentials. He is one of the country’s foremost painters, someone that the artist community can truly take pride in. This is partly because he belongs to a generation which has rubbed shoulders with extraordinary connoisseurs and artists such as the late Ali Imam. Therefore, when Jaffer exhibits his artworks, as done recently at the Art Chowk Gallery in a show titled Revisited, it becomes an important event of the cultural calendar.

The exhibition was a kind of a return to the artist’s creative universe. It’s a treat. There were some striking paintings on display. Before looking at them, the viewer gets to read in the gallery space views of two renowned critics — Dr Akbar Naqvi and Marjorie Husain — on Jaffer’s oeuvre. Both praise him no end, and the former’s assertion that “he has succeeded in creating a truly emancipated community of colours in which variety becomes the basic form of cohering perception and vision” makes one think hard.

FOUR of the artworks on display.—White Star
FOUR of the artworks on display.—White Star

Of course, the critic is spot on. Let’s add to it another dimension: the colours that Jaffer uses are emancipated in a way that they augment the magic of the faces which he paints. And the faces (the reference here is to the female form) have a strong bondage with floral patterns that represent delicateness without which the faces will lose their charm.

FOUR of the artworks on display.—White Star
FOUR of the artworks on display.—White Star

Also, when Jaffer’s paintings are called abstract, it does justice to his expression to a large extent. The abstraction, though, is not far away from the reality (not realism) that we experience on a regular basis — the reality that has to do with the role that faces and flowers play in our daily lives. They remind us of life’s fragile beauty.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2020