Imran Qureshi was trained as a painter specifically in the styles and techniques of the traditional figurative miniature painting of the Indian Subcontinent, which remains the dominant tendency for contemporary artists in Lahore, where Qureshi teaches miniature painting at the National College of Arts. In recent years, his practice, which contains a distinct socio-political charge, has focused on the formal expansion of this strict and rigorous style of painting towards abstraction, conceptualism and site-specificity. Recent installations have been made in-situ, being worked directly on to the specific architecture of a place, often in the public realm. These installations possess a certain perceptual threshold – close up, they have the ‘look’ and beauty of the traditional miniature, whereas from a distance they can resemble the aftermath of a bloodbath. Though these works are no longer strictly speaking figurative, in many of them the human body is implicated in a different way through symbolic use of the colour red.
I WANT YOU TO STAY WITH ME
The exhibition at M HKA includes two installations by Qureshi based on his recent technique of expanding the miniature aesthetic into a spatial practice. I Want You To Stay With Me is a painting installation produced in-situ. Qureshi produced these sets of paintings on the floor, splashing red paint, and then working more intricate details into the image. The paintings are then positioned on the wall, with the trace of his painting remaining on the ground beneath. Combining chance with control, the work is simultaneously representational and non-representational, balancing beauty and repulsion, wishing metaphorically to find optimism out of the effects of catastrophe.
AND THEY STILL SEEK THE TRACES OF BLOOD…
And They Still Seek the Traces of Blood… is an environment filled with 24,000 large sheets of paper. Each has images of Qureshi’s previous floor paintings printed on both sides, crumpled, and together used to fill a space that people can enter. Civilisation and its capacity for destruction and oppression based on perceived differences between human subjects is a central theme in Qureshi’s work. Together the sheets might be seen to represent the numerous incidents of conflict and violence taking place at any one time, and the act of crumpling suggesting ignorance of such events. (NH)