A Feast For The Eyes


Wahab Jaffers presence in Pakistans art circles goes back to the early seventies, when he first appeared at Ali Imams studio in Karachi. For an extensive period between 1972 and 1979, he also worked and studied with the late Ahmed Pervez, whose influence will seemingly always stay in Wahabs work.

Wahabs latest work was recently exhibited in the new premises of the Rohtas Qallery in Islamabad. The artist has been painting in acrylics for the last thirty years. Instead of tiring of this medium, he has continued to be seduced by it. Here is a celebration of the spontaneous and heartfelt interaction between the artist and his brush. This spontaneity evokes a musical interplay of form and colour, and a mystery that can be found under “veil after veil of vivid hues”, according to the painter Souza. His work is, Souza continues, “carnival, revelry, merry- making… a feast of light and colour.”

Wahab Jaffer, apart from producing art that has survived thought the seventies and the eighties is also a connoisseur of art, possessing a vast collection including perhaps the largest collection of Ahmed Pervezs paintings; His own paintings are in various national and international collections. Jaffer is also the Honorary Consul General for the Philippines, and head of a very successful business concern.

His recent paintings confirm that his sense of festivity and joy, his belief in the strong potential of pure colour, has continued to grow in his work. His paintings now possess a richness even more pronounced, with plenty of brilliant reds and yellows. The use of pure colour, of deep blues combined with crimsons, sweet lilacs with acidic yellows testifies to the artists unpretentious, spiritual relationship with colour.

Wahab is foremost a colourist. This series of paintings often use the figure and flowers as a vehicle for his expression. The flowers are symbolic, and the figure merely accidental, for they are but a medium for establishing a connection between form and colour.

One cannot help but see the stylistic influence of Pervez in the persistent, habitual use of stark, black outlines, and a general recurrence of reds in Wahabs paintings. There is a light hearted, lyrical quality, evoking a reference to Wassily Kandinskys “abstract landscapes” based on memories of his own childhood. Kandinsky was greatly influenced by musical compositions, and perhaps we see the same quality in Wahab.

It is debatable whether relating Wahabs work to that of another artist is necessary. The artist is solely having fun, and it shows. The rapid, energetic strokes of the brush have left indelible and colourful marks. This is a confident artist playing with colour. At the same time, it must be said that Wahabs work is not accidental in nature, relying solely on chance effects. Even a reference to action painting would be out of place, because even though the action is clearly marked on his canvases, his compositions are more tried and tested, as it were. Over the years, Wahab has trained his eye and his hand to reflect his inner feelings.

There is a pure and magical quality in the paintings that continues to grow on us. The smaller paintings seem to emanate a jewel-like quality, with all kinds of forms compressed and overlapping one another. There is more complexity in them and the viewer is almost compelled to come nearer for a more close-up examination. The larger paintings are unashamedly bold, with forms, opening up, swimming in pools of colour. The result is a relatively flatter field of colour, giving a subtle lightness to the canvases.

Wahabs latest offering confirms his stature as a colourist. He has continued his experiments with form and colour, and come up with some brilliant canvases which celebrate his freedom from academic forms and the staid use of colour. One hopes that this relationship of the artist with his medium will continue to grow.