About Artist. Siddiqua Bilgrami
Inner turmoils and outer stimuli create reverberations in the inner-most senses and an Art form emerges. ‘Movement’ and ‘Space’ have been my props and my wonder. ‘Movement’ is an essential ingredient of life and ‘Space’ allows limitless possibilities. My occupation with Nature and its elements, often depicting human emotions, has continued in different forms through various phases of my Art career, spanning five decades and several countries. The earlier work was mainly abstract. Then emerged semi-abstract images, akin to landscapes and shadowy figures. Later came a period of figurative portraiture of women in distress. My most recent work is entitled “Baagh Bikhar Gaya” or “The Garden Scattered” series in acrylic paintings and collographs in semi-abstract form
Join me in a conducted tour of my Art Gallery and some of my works exhibited in solo exhibitions and group shows I had in Italy, India, Pakistan, Switzerland, England, France, Nigeria and Canada.
Women as Sufferers at Times of War and Calamities:
The ‘Iraq War’ suddenly brought home to me the plight of women in a war situation, and I empathized with the plight of women during other calamities as well. Woman is fragile, and easily hurt, while man and circumstances can create havoc to her life and being. Hence came these paintings and a poem in English and also one in Urdu, which speak of the Iraq war.
Landscapes of the Mind:
Seen and unseen, imagined and visualized, spring forth semi-abstract forms akin to landscapes. The ‘print’ format continued here, containing the imagery in self-imposed boundaries and then spilling out here and there for special effects. These paintings are in acrylics on paper. The subject matter varies from ‘ spiritualistic’ where ascending stairs and pathways lead one up somewhere, or there is an examination of ‘Nature’ by cross-section, front and side-views, leading onto a logical conclusion. Drops of blood, tears and strikes sometimes combine with landscapes. Sometimes there is poetic portrayal of Nature itself.
Born in Poona in 1941, Wahab Jaffer had been interested in painting and drawing as a child but the educational curriculum mapped out for him did not include art as a subject. He qualified as an engineer in the U. K, but his innate interest in art led him to join the studio of Ali Imam in 1971 where Imam discovered the incipient artist in the man. Since then, Wahab Jaffer has been consistently enthralled by the process of painting and the complexities of manipulating media. He has the ability to impart a mood-evoking exuberance and an infectious love of life and art that is almost tangible. Jaffer\’s world offers visual effects of melting colour against colour, layered in a way that creates patterns, textures and overall compositions of blues, greens, yellows and mauve. While creating a sequence of fantasy, his awareness of the contrast and power of space endows his work with a sense of energy and freedom. His is a world of sensuous of rhythm; mysterious androgynous faces and abstract images spiral across the canvas in brilliant outbursts of colour like exploding flowers . In a startling variation, Jaffer also paints images that eschew colour, and in the process creates new variations from the phenomenon of shadows. Souza, an admirer of Jaffer’s work, said in \’92\’; ”There\’s a very mysterious element in Wahab\’s colours; you must look for it under veil after veil of vivid hues, Carnival, Revelry, Merrymaking. It\’s Christmas in Wahab\’s art! It\’s joy! It\’s a feast of light and colour!\’\’ In 1985, however, Jaffer experienced a transition in his work when he underwent heart surgery in Houston. The experience led to a \’branching out\’ in his work, in the form of a series of pen-and-ink drawings he called \’Life-Lines\’. \’\’During those months in hospital, although everything around me was white – my world appeared totally black. In a sketchpad I started drawing. Slowly, painfully like a blind person trying to learn Braille I scratched with my pen and gradually light, life itself began to peep through. Slowly, as I sketched, adding texture and line in place of colour, I discovered the light and colour in black and white. I drew the outlines of a woman\’s face and birds began to fly in the cage of the tunnel. I could once again feel my heart beating . Once I had chosen to draw in the darkness, I discovered a new light. Souza, an admirer of Jaffer’s work, said in ’92’; “There’s a very mysterious element in Wahab’s colours; you must look for it under veil after veil of vivid hues, Carnival, Revelry, Merrymaking. It’s Christmas in Wahab’s art! It’s joy! It’s a feast of light and colour!”
In 1985, however, Jaffer experienced a transition in his work when he underwent heart surgery in Houston. The experience led to a ‘branching out’ in his work, in the form of a series of pen-and-ink drawings he called ‘Life-Lines’. “During those months in hospital, although everything around me was white – my world appeared totally black. In a sketchpad I started drawing. Slowly, painfully like a blind person trying to learn Braille I scratched with my pen and gradually light, life itself began to peep through. Slowly, as I sketched, adding texture and line in place of colour, I discovered the light and colour in black and white. I drew the outlines of a woman’s face and birds began to fly in the cage of the tunnel. I could once again feel my heart beating . Once I had chosen to draw in the darkness, I discovered a new light”
Naz Ikramullah’s thoughts on the cultural mishap of today
Visual artist and painter Naz Ikramullah has much to her credit. When it comes to family lineage, she is the daughter of Mohammad Ikramullah, Pakistan’s first foreign secretary and Begum Shaista S. Ikramullah, the renowned Pakistani political leader, diplomat and author of the book From Pardah to Parliament. If that wasn’t enough, Naz has very influential siblings as well, one of them being Princess Sarvath of Jordan.
Naz Ikramullah may have the art of painting in her hands but she has undoubtedly been blessed with a gift of gab too. She speaks as if the tales she tells are never-ending and one is held in rapt attention every minute. She spins one story after another, engaging the audience effortlessly. Her latest talk, that took place at the Oxford University Press book store located at Khalid bin Waleed road, was no exception.
She indicates that the cultural gap widened with time, and she feels very strongly about it. “Though, Hindus and Muslims often kept their serving dishes separate for members of the opposite religion, it was never with the die-hard intention of killing the other. Never was that foundation laid, but today, things are certainly different.”
While referring to her most recent visit to India last year, where she met various people belonging to different cultures, she said, “When the infamous Indian rape case and the horrors associated with it were being discussed in that country, one gentle Hindu man said to me, ‘From the land where you originate from, (Pakistan), such things don’t happen to Muslim women. They respect them lot. However, sadly that is not the case in India.’ Remaining indifferent to all else, he looked a little unaware of the things happening at this side of the border too,” she added.
Ikramullah said, “More than the Muslims, it was Hindus who visited holy Muslim shrines and tombs of Sufi mystics in India, paying respect to them. Hindus feel comfortable there and this is in particular a food for thought for us. Sufism was a major force of change in the region.”
Currently based in Ottawa, Canada, she spoke about Jinnah when she was questioned by the audience of her opinion of the Two-Nation Theory. “Jinnah wanted this land to be like a federating unit which is together. No man with a sane mind would ever want to divide a country. He never wished for its natives to be over-run and lose their identity!”
While throwing light on the topic of the growing theological borders, she commented: “Back then (pre-partition days), there were no theological borders. However, each one respected the other’s barriers. They didn’t move in a direction to kill the other.”
Ikramullah has certainly not lost all hope in the younger lot of today, stating calmly, “The more you read, the more you learn, and the germs of ideas grow out from your head.”