Shehla Rafi, one of the finest landscape painters Pakistan has ever produced, has exhibited not only in Pakistan but has been representing her homeland at international art galleries in France and the UK since 1991. Her landscape paintings fall into the category of romantic realism, a striking example where volition, value, and objective reality are handled with skilful technique. The hues and strokes create an emotive texture that compels the viewer to feel the soft movements within impressionable serenity painted aesthetically. Neither a tint nor a hue, nor the delicate difference of texture escapes her gentle touch.
Shehla expresses her landscapes not only through her eyes and her mind, but also through the longing of her soul with the soil. She doesn’t idealize her subject, yet it feels like she has painted a piece of her heart on the canvas by just having a glimpse of the paintings. She evokes in the viewer’s mind a perception of the spatiotemporal continuum to which her landscapes belong. The paintings provide a peaceful treat to the eyes of the viewer which is deeper than the merely visual. It seems like the visual talks to the viewer and becomes a part of an individual’s personal experience in a way that no photograph can.
One can feel the branches and leaves moving, and hear the whistling of air while passing through them. It is apparent that she has inherited this magic in the genes like her maternal uncle Khalid Iqbal, the leading landscape painter from Lahore. Her paintings are not just paintings but a magical experience for the viewer and are considered as a collector’s items.
Shehla believes in producing the finest paintings of true art that are neither repetitive nor decorative, and each piece is a product of creative intelligence. She also believes in painting live at the spot and captures the natural light rather than taking a photograph and paint from it. It is artists like her who become an inspiration to younger artists, and represent the positive side of Pakistan all over the world.