Wahab Jaffer: Life Lines
By Fatima S. Khan
Jaffer clearly portrays the struggle of women in a socio-economic
climate, the saga that repeats itself from the beginning
of time. He strongly highlights the important and influential
role women have played in history portraying them as role
models for the present-day woman who faces crises in everyday
With exceptional talent and imagination, he displays the
opulent headgears that conjure glamorized images of historical
figureheads like Cleopatra, Queen of England, women in Greek
mythology with elaborate medusa perched on their head and
several others in a portrait. A reminder no doubt that women
of diverse cultures can lead; the constant attention to
the elaborate headgears is an indication of women in power
using their intelligence as a means to an end.
The struggle of ordinary women on the other hand, burdened
with headgears that explode in complete frenzy, fragmented,
disoriented with flames of fire; fire being a symbol of
His great optimism persuades him to crown the fire of hell
with dreams of peace. He skillfully frames the white doves,
a symbol of peace and serenity within the chaotic conundrum
and bleakness, strongly suggesting that even in depravity
there is uplifting and redemption.
His dramatic use of color and bold images are relentless
expressions, haunting the thoughts of viewers. They are
a profound voice of the oppressed yet are challenged to
find their own light. He takes risks with forms to imply
individual suffering and transcendence by collapsing boundaries
and distorting traditional figuration to near abstraction.
Cubism and Abstract forms were mainly his art form expressions
during the early seventies and eighties. This exhibition
was appropriately called “Passion II”.
Images from the “Passion II” collection are
painstaking composition of nightmarish quality, imprisoned
in the mute contraptions, the message is luminous, precise
protraying the inner realm of thoughts and feelings. He
nonetheless paints a vivid portrait .
The head is a concoction of chaos, however the facial expressions
balance the chaotic into control, rising to the great nobility
of feeling and expression. She is forlorn but does not quite
despair, she looks imploringly, she is not a goddess but
a woman, the mother of mankind.
The art is overwhelmingly spectacular in size and the impressive
use of brilliant forays in acrylic, richness to detail and
the harmony of the arrangement bringing the message to life,
and the viewer forms an intimate connection to the human
drama; surrendering to its carefully concocted spills.
Art is one of the means by which human beings make sense
of the world and through which they are striving to change
reality. The need to translate experience, knowledge and
desire into concrete imagery is not a whim or a fancy; it
is part of human consciousness leaving a galvanizing impact.
Wahab Jaffer’s post-heart surgery collection called
“Life Lines” done in black and white are consumed
with faces of passive women, however the mental distress
takes a form of complicated, interlocking of patterns. Some
animal prints, in shapes of ferocious stormy movement, topping
this image once again, there are quintessential symbols
of doves and fishes, which signify peace and tranquility
culminating all into a seamless montage. He translates the
socio-political issues into images; the close link of his
realm to sense and perceive, immediate impressions and emotions
Wahab Jaffer grasps the profoundest values, embracing human
issues and transmitting wholly definite presentation of
imagery that of objective experience. Here the purpose is
the “voices of women need to be heard”.
particularly developed aesthetic sense, he decodes social
issues and transforms them into images. Women have rights
of expression is resonant in each of his artwork, not merely
a women but a thought-provoking image, sulime thought at
times celebrating the grandiosity of womanhood and other
times deploring the restrictive freedom of expression.
The fissures and the cracks of the images have laboriously
patented myths and archetype compressed in a woman’s
psyche from the earliest of time.
The relationship between an artist and his subject is complex,
artist is a conduit of anamolies and metaphors, engaging
the viewer to surrender to a series of images that encompass
intelligence and thought-provoking issues. In addition,
Wahab Jaffer is giving a voice to the plight of women and
playing immediacy of their losses and sufferings against
the panorama of socio-political and econimic struggles.
Wahab Jaffer’s most recent exhibition was held at
the Canvas Gallery in Clifton Karachi called Passion II
and prior to that the most stunning works called “Life
Lines” was also held in Karachi at the Goethe Institute.
Wahab Jaffer is amongst the most notable artists in Pakistan.
He has made a tremendous transition from Cubism to Realism;
his earlier works did seem to have the twentieth centruy
influence of artists like Picasso and Braque, however his
present works are definitely his inner voice of the present.