Sunday, November 18, 2012

Imran Qureshi: One of Pakistan’s top contemporary artists

It is in the connection between enlightened thought and deep spirituality, the continuous negotiation of utterly opposing values, ideologies, and traditions that a ray of hope can be found as if to overcome a near hopeless situation: Violence is an almost daily occurrence in Pakistan, but as he himself asserts, Imran Qureshi, Deutsche Bank's Artist of the Year – 2013’ is not only reacting to violence in his home country.  An essay on him on the brings out the nuances of his practice as follows:
  • His art is aimed at violence in principle—through restrictive role models and political, ideological, and religious systems.  His art does not shy away from expressing grief and horror. At the same time, however, it addresses the constant alternation between destruction and creation as an existential cycle that brings not only despair, but also reason for hope.
  • The seeds of hope keep emerging in his art, also in his paper works. They twist and thread throughout the splatters of paint and geometric patterns. They are part of an entire arsenal of motifs that emerge like solid signs in his symbolic landscapes. There are oval forms reminiscent of eggs or buds, germs of new life or protective encasements in which memories, thoughts, and feelings are hidden. And then there are the half-opened scissors that are placed horizontally or vertically in order to separate, to cut—perceptions, social connections, world views. Here, scissors are symbols for violence and censorship.
  •  Interestingly, miniature painting forms the basis for everything, for small formats on paper as well as huge, installation-based works that can occupy entire buildings and plazas. Part of Qureshi’s training as a painter of miniatures is to create a grid as a structure for each work. Drawing the so-called Hashiyas  (boundaries) serves as more than just a system of coordinates.
  • Throughout 20th-century art, the geometric grid has been a central ordering system for Constructivism and Minimalism alike. Qureshi also discovers it in everyday life, for instance in found situations: in architecture and the attributes of a place. He uses the grooves between floor plates, the angles of walls in rooms and houses, the fugues between bricks as well as an imposed grid on paper. But in contrast to traditional miniature painting, ornamentation rebels against the rigid grid.
  • Qureshi’s paintings and installations resemble maps of emotion and thought in which the ornament repeatedly corresponds with rigid forms, softens them and calls them into question. The basis of his works is both rational and spiritual. It speaks to both: the necessity of enlightenment and the necessity of belief, of preserving long-held traditions.

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