Isbah Afzal

Delicate Bonds-1 (Tangled series)
Watercolor on wasli

Strands and filaments and fragments.  A scenario of interrupted sewing, as if the maker has lost the thread and is longing to be drawn back into the story. These works disturb the viewer by their fragility so that to contemplate them might even prolong their dissolution. Yet what exquisite textiles are being woven here with the brush!
Afzal’s series of work on the theme of textiles, weaving, or needle work, reflects the archetypal role of the dutiful wife and mother, mending and bending, sharing and caring.
But to take the longer look at her work is to recognise the anxiety underlying such maternal mythologies, which is already declared in titles such as: woven thoughts, Tangled, Delicate bonds. That is the struggles of life form the background to these images.
Formally, Afzal’s miniature painting appears to reproduce the traditional practice within the frame of craft ritual, yet the images have sub text. Afzal’s context is at once her own personal world of family concerns and the actual tension of performing her practice within a patriarchal society where appearance must be kept up. Her ruse is to unpick the beautiful surface and show the realities of everyday strife: her interweaving of twines into exquisite patterns suddenly seizes up, as if in the checkmate, the threads hang limp. Afzal’s painting is spinning a yarn of suspense, a narrative with no ending.
Isbah Afzal is a Contemporary miniature painter, lives and work in Islamabad. She has successfully exhibited in the Indian subcontinent and Europe. Her works are part of some important private contemporary collections of India, Europe and America.

Photo credit | Usman Javed