Imran Qureshi (b. 1972) has exploded onto the world stage this year – he was named Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year for 2013, he was commissioned by the MET Museum in New York for their annual roof garden display, and he was also selected for the Venice Biennale. With this kind of exposure, we’re all going to learn an awful lot about this Pakistani artist. And that’s a good thing!
As it happens, the artist’s work for the MET Museum was met with controversy. The annual roof garden display is very much looked forward to by all New Yorkers who love the tranquil space located on the roof of the MET Museum, at about tree top level and overlooking Central Park. This year, visitors, myself included, were stunned to find what initially looked like the immediate aftermath of a bombing – scarlet red splattered across the expanse of the roof. But on closer inspection, the artistic aspects became apparent as the seemingly random blotches of red paint morphed into Islamic floral and feather patterns. Once the initial shock is overcome, one realizes it’s an amazing installation slowly changing over the course of the summer as rain and thousands of feet take their toll on the artwork.
Qureshi is actually a very skilled artist who once trained and now teaches at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan, a city rich in the artistic culture of the great Moghul Empire. The artwork that initially caught my attention were his paintings – pieces which at first glance look like the 17th-19th century miniatures I so much love and collect, but on closer inspection you realize the subjects have been updated for the 21st century – a young woman setting off to school, or a young man blowing bubbles.
Qureshi’s miniature artwork may be a glimpse into a world that is sadly fading in the Middle East but I’m glad to see the continuing artistic tradition of the East being upheld by talented and accomplished artists.
richard rabel: interiors + art
interior design and art advising
new york city
image credits: (top to bottom): Pakistan Art News; New York Times; Whitehot Magazine/Nafas Art Magazine; CorviMora Gallery (London)/Aicon Gallery (NY)