Sadaf Naeem got her BFA degree from the National College of Arts, Lahore, after which she went on to teach at the Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design as well as the Kinnaird College in Lahore. She represented her country in international events such as the International Artist Camp 2003 in Sri Lanka and Euphonic Palate 2006, in India.
Sadaf Naeem understands that using familiar and simple visuals can open up a world of possibilities for the viewer’s perception. She uses this understanding very successfully to create images that speak about her thoughts on femininity, and the cultural implications that are associated with it. She creates spaces that seem to be flimsy and vulnerable, and offer not protection but rather a sense of segregation.
Sadaf’s work has another characteristic, one that seems to counterbalance the segregation as hinted by the division of spaces. She uses patterns that are floral and vividly feminine, in the form of laces or veils. The inherent idea behind a lace is one that has changed over time, from a symbol of maternal protection and royalty to a fashion statement today. This is what adds a duality to Sadaf’s work. The ever present lace in her work gives the viewers the idea that there is something more to the art than what is visually seen.
Lace can be seen concealing faces and figures in her work. Shadowy figures are painted behind drapes and veils that seem to emphasize upon the social and traditional values that women have to abide by. Using colours like black, red, and ochre, the artist creates environments that are almost ghoulish, with which the floral patterns of the laces have a direct contrast. She uses grey in these atmospheres as well, either as a backdrop or in the form of a veil, which is meant to symbolise aspects such as secrecy, privacy, anonymity and the suppression that is usually associated with female struggle. Sometimes there are women in black dupattas, huddled together in the shadows, which depict the constraints as forced on many rural women of our society.
Sadaf Naeem has made her own place in the art world with her take on the social constraints that so many women suffer from. She has perfected her images by adding a layer of mystery to her images, which keeps the viewers contemplating long after they first set their eyes on her work.