“The best works are often those with the fewest and simplest elements- pictures that are almost obvious, until you look at them a little more and things begin to happen.”
When looking at a painting it is the composition and function of colour that are two of the most important factors in determining the subjective content of a painting. The joint relation of colour-to-colour produces a phenomenon of a more mysterious order that is psychological. The artist requires a high sensitivity in order to expand colour into the sphere of the surreal without losing creative ground. Colour inspires certain moods in us as viewers; it can awaken joy or fear in harmony with its composition.
In fact, when we as human beings experience the whole world visually, it comes to us through the mystic realm of colour. Our entire being is nourished by it hence this mystic quality of colour should likewise find expression in a work of art. This is the visual enjoyment one experiences while looking at eminent painter Wahab Jaffer’s work. Thirty-six canvases adorn the walls of the Tanzara Art Gallery in Islamabad along with black ink drawings that contain intricately worked dreamlike forms.
In Jaffer’s paintings, colour is the most important element of composition. Luminosity and brightness on the surface and a bold and dauntless style, Jaffer’s identity exudes through these paintings where he successfully captures the moods of the women on his canvases. It is the female that dominates the entire show, where the portrait is repeated on each canvas. Although the features of Jaffer’s women are similar, the eyes are full of expression. The lines flow to become a shape, recurrently a bird. The bird in itself is a significant component of the painting; the bird may jump out of or fly over the face, or be part of the overall pattern of the painting. His world offers visual effects of melting colour against colour, layered in a way that creates textures and patterns. There are inclusive shades of blues, greens, yellows, reds and purple. Jaffer paints with an immense amount of energy and freedom; his is a world of rhythm, enigmatic abstract images. The viewer must look for the underlying mystery in Jaffer’s colours as there is a feast of light and joy. An internal emotional force lies within each piece.
At the Tanzara Gallery, with its state of the art space and lighting, the paintings are viewed with enthusiasm. The black and white drawings are breathtaking which are displayed alongside the colour filled canvases. Features, line and geometric patterns all flow into and grow out of one another. Jaffer adds black lines and texture in place of colour forming surreal compositions. They seem to bring a new dimension to the overall exhibition where delicacy and vibrancy are conspicuous factors.
Jaffer knows how to use colour to his advantage, he understands the power of colour on the viewer. He enhances his paintings with the appropriate subliminal message to capture the mood he desires to portray.
Wahab Jaffer’s solo exhibition was held at Tanzara Gallery, Islamabad, from 13-28 March 2015.
Shireen Ikramullah Khan is a painter, art critic and museologist based in Islamabad, whos write for Dawn Gallery, Nukta Art Magazine and Blue Chip Magazine. She teach Visual Arts at the National College of Arts in Rawalpindi.