Shafina Jaffer describes herself as a meditative artist who sees art as an articulation of spirituality. She recently exhibited a series of paintings inspired by the creation of the universe, at the Jaffer Modern art gallery in Green Point, Cape Town. Her solo presentation was part of the ‘Does This Resonate With You?’ exhibition, which ran from 3 June to 24 July 2021.
Through this work, Jaffer sought to convey the role of God and science in creation in a naturalistic way – to transcend religious mechanisms and encourage a conversation around spiritual pluralism and cultural diversity.
Jaffer is currently in the exploration stage of her art career, and this body of work represents the evolution of her journey so far. Her presentation offered the viewer the opportunity to engage with the work of an artist in the process of self-discovery.
Setting the tone for the exhibition, the multimedia artwork entitled Eye of Creation was displayed as a separate, standalone piece. With its use of dark tones and fiery coppers and reds, this piece was the one of boldest of the series. Having it displayed in its singularity made sense – it gave insight into the thematic intention of the show whilst preventing it from overpowering the other works.
The rest of Jaffer’s work was exhibited in the last room of the gallery. Here the paintings were predominantly monochromatic, with hints of gold. The omission of colour and dynamic size of the works was enticing and brought a desire to explore.
Positioned at the entrance was a series of smaller abstract artworks in darker tones of charcoal that grounded the exhibition. With titles like ‘Meteorite’, ‘Reflection I’ and ‘Pathways II’, they gave a sense of both science and spirituality and invited conversation around these topics.
Four large-scale multimedia pieces, entirely white, were displayed opposite. The technical use of negative space encouraged clarity and allowed for ease of contemplation, while creating a sense of monumentality. Textured areas contrasted with flattened areas depicted the calm and chaos of the universe. The predominance of white gave the works an accessibility that enabled the viewer to explore their personal connection to spirituality, without bias towards any framework.
Jaffer reinvented concepts, like Infinity and Kundalini, and in so doing, ignited the idea that everything has the possibility to be reimagined and reinterpreted. These pieces transcended to a place of meaning, and while offering the spectator the opportunity to look inward, also encouraged consciousness of others and of our inherent connection.
These contemporary, large-scale pieces dissolved into the final series of paintings, which felt like Jaffer’s offering to the conversation – her personal journey of spirituality transcribed through the more definitive use of sacred geometry, Kufic texts and Arabic calligraphy. She turned to graphite and there was an assertiveness in the darker tones, bolder markings and use of solid black and gold.
Overall, the exhibition had a good sense of balance. Jaffer created a contemplative series of work that offered a glimpse into her personal spiritual journey, while affording the viewer the opportunity for introspection into their own connection and understanding of the metaphysical.