Pure Pleasure

DATED: 2 MAY 1997

Once a businessman, Wahab Jaffer fell under the magic spell of Ahmed Pervezs art. He began to spend more and more time with the Master, took up paint and brush, and went on to create his own identity as a painter.

Even now beneath the luscious colours in Wahab Jaffers paintings, one can discern the influence of Pervez: the freedom with which he applies all kinds of shades, the broad swathes of paint, the bright highlighted hues bursting through fields of dark.

Since the Seventies when Wahab worked with Pervez, he has held numerous group and solo exhibitions all over the country. What is displayed at the Clifton Art Gallery in Karachi these days, is another addition to his long list of shows. Wahab had his first solo show at Ali lmams Indus Gallery, where he had been learning the rudiments of painting, and where, interestingly, he first ran into his muse of art, Ahmed Pervez.

On display are the signature Wabah Jaffer paintings, abstract compositions, with only vague references to real world things, much as one searches for shapes in random fluffs of cloud in the sky. There is no question Wahab is learning all the time. Many of his paintings are more mature, in the sense that the colours are not so raw, not so pleasing pastel shades like pinks and mauves.

However, I still wish Wahab had been more rigorous with selection. ln between the masterful paintings with a brilliant use of dark and light and the mature shades of red and yellow, one can find a few weaker works which are laden with sweet colours and obscure designs. Some of these are small-sized works which seem to lack the space and freedom that Wahab naturally needs to apply his vast compositional ideas, his vigorous and sweeping strokes of the brush. There is also Wahabs signature, a rather oversized autograph, which distracts the viewer from the painting, especially in the smaller works.

This said, one can still find a more mature Wahab Jaffer in some of the works. There is a brief return to faces (just two or three such paintings), and more important, there are some very powerful works. Wahab paints for pure pleasure; he applies himself with freedom and complete abandon. This shows in many of his playful, vigorous, mature paintings which have at lot of his great sense of freedom and ecstasy.

One thing that gives Wahah success in his image-making is the use of black or dark lines, a la Ahmed Pervez. ln fact, if there is one thing that markedly distinguishes the two artists work, it is the more emphatic use of line in Pervezs paintings. Where Wahab has used strong defining lines and forceful interplay of dark and light, he has come up with powerful compositions. This is a worthwhile exhibition, pleasing to the eye and the soul, especially for the glimpses it provides to the good work Wahab is capable of.