Imran Qureshi exhibition at Salsali Private Museum

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Hailed as Deutsche Bank’s artist of the year of 2013, Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi is creating waves in Pakistan’s contemporary art genre and is the pioneer of neo-contemporary miniature painting. He has received international acclaim for his intense and highly unique style.

commissioned paintings on the roof of The Met

commissioned paintings on the roof of The Met

As soon as I saw his famous roof garden commission he created for The Met in New York, I was spellbound by the artist’s intricate and powerful work. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found out THE Imran Qureshi was having a solo show here in Dubai at Salsali Private Museum, Al Serkal.

Qureshi’s themes center around social, political and ideological issues. He is primarily influenced by terrorism and corruption in Pakistan, although, he acknowledges that violence is a pressing issue everywhere, not just in Pakistan and therefore his work is relevant globally.

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As I walked into the gallery I was startled by seeing the artist’s signature style in person.

It’s a very raw, blood-splattered illusion but when you look closer it resembles a cluster of beautiful delicate chrysanthemums rendered in shades of crimson. This reiterates his themes of beauty being born amongst destruction.

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I love how he utilizes an ancient style of Mugal-era miniatures but incorporates it in a contemporary way to speak about present issues – juxtaposing the country’s past and present. The way he combines traditional fine art with installation is fascinating too.

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I pondered why he chose to repeatedly use a gold background on the canvases. Was it purely for aesthetics or was it deliberately chosen to convey the stark contrast in social classes within Pakistan, highlighting overt flamboyance with suffering?

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His installation in particular was remarkable. I am at loss for words for this one. See it for yourself!

"And They Still Seek The Traces Of Blood" by Imran Qureshi.  mounds and mounds of "blood" stained papers/floral motifs.

“And They Still Seek The Traces Of Blood” by Imran Qureshi.
mounds and mounds of “blood” stained papers/floral motifs.

Same installation shown in Berlin

Same installation shown in Berlin

The artist draws from personal experience as he has witnessed the turmoil his native country has endured over the years with tragic and deadly bombings, rise of sectarian extremism and frequent suicide bombings and shootings.

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Although his work is about creating awareness of violence and extremism, interestingly, his overall tone is not entirely negative or cynical. In fact, his pieces evoke a sense of hope in humanity.

He states that there is a certain correlation between destruction and beauty; it forms an existential cycle that not only makes us despair but also gives us hope. I agree wholeheartedly with the artist on his views.

It’s a poignant fact that when shrouded in calamity, injustice and natural disasters, that is when, simultaneously, tenderness and compassion is demonstrated and therefore humanity is restored.

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