Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pakistan at the (Roof) Top in New York

by Artwallaa

Source: The Met, Artwallaa, Little Bird or Facebook for all photographs.  

No one could have come up with a better title then, “And How Many Rains Must Fall Before the Stains are Washed Clean", for Imran Qureshi’s just opened Roof Top installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) in New York. The Title, taken from Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s famous poem, 'Hum Ke Thehre Ajnabee' (which he had written after East Pakistan’s separation), does not only depict the mental stains on all of us due to the violence in Pakistan and the world in general in the past decade, but also describes the Pak-US diplomatic relationship very well; especially the stains in the US-Pakistan relationship developed in the last couple of decades.

With the opening of ‘The Roof Garden Commission: Imran Qureshi’ on May 14, Imran Qureshi became the first South Asian artist to do a large scale site-specific work of art at the Roof Top of The Met, New York. “The project represents the artist’s emotional response to violence occurring across the globe in recent decades and his earnest hope for regeneration and lasting peace in the aftermath of man-made disasters, says The Met’s press release.

It continues with “Using the nearly 8,000-square-foot open-air space as his canvas, Qureshi has worked areas of his spilled and splattered red acrylic paint into patterns of lush ornamental leaves that evoke the luxuriant walled gardens that are ubiquitous in miniatures of the Mughal court; they also echo the spectacular verdant foliage of Central Park surrounding the Roof Garden today. Qureshi is the first artist to create a work that will be painted directly onto the Roof’s surface, and visitors will be encouraged to walk on it as they view it”.

In recent years Qureshi has transplanted his landscapes from the boundaries of the page to specific architectural environments including the Singapore Biennale in 2006 and the MOMA at Oxford. The Met’s take on it is very interesting, “Flooding his chosen sites with acrylic, the artist then works the paint into thickets of ornamental leaves with foliate patterns that evoke the luxuriant walled gardens of the Mughals— a ubiquitous subject in historic miniatures.

Three years ago Qureshi began to use red acrylic in his installations in response to brutal bombings in Lahore. While many of the world’s citizens have become accustomed to almost daily attacks on their streets, such cruelty striking so close to home provoked a deep response in his work. Given the devastating recent events in Boston, Qureshi’s theme of tragedy giving rise to a blossoming of new growth is all the more poignant as a message of recovery and regeneration”.

“We are honoured that Imran Qureshi has brought his spirit, sensitivity, and remarkable vision to the Metropolitan Museum this summer,”said Sheena Wagstaff, the Museum’s Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art. “His artistic practice oscillates between the discipline and reinvention of the miniature format, and the expansive scale of architectural spaces. His works are wonderfully complex at the same time as appearing quite simple: they reckon with the unfortunate realities of political ideologies while revelling in the ability of paint and colour to depict and actively stimulate regeneration.”

Imran Qureshi said, “The dialogue between life and death is an important element in my work. Leaves and nature, for example, represent the idea of life. And the particular colour of red that I have been using in recent years can look so real, like blood. The red reminds me of the situation today in my country, Pakistan, and in the world around us, where violence is almost a daily occurrence. But somehow, people still have hope. The flowers that seem to emerge from the red paint in my work represent the hope that—despite everything—the people sustain somehow, their hope for a better future.”

Apart from the New York high society and art fraternity, the opening ceremony also attended by the artist and his better half (Aisha Khalid), Sheena Wagstaff - Curator of the Met, Ian Altavere - assistant curator of the Met, Melissa Chiu - Director Asia Society, Mr and Mrs Munter - Ex-US Ambassador to Pakistan, Zarina Hashmi, Talha Rathore, Amna Naqvi, Suljuk Tarrar, amongst others. 
 And then we had BONO visiting the Roof Top and spending over one hour with Imran !!!!

With “Artist of the Year 2013” at Deutsche Bank already under his belt alongwith the related solo exhibition at the KuntHalle in Berlin, Imran’s Roof Garden Commission at The Met has catapulted the artist firmly in the international league.

Bravo Imran and Congratulations Pakistan!



Saturday, May 18, 2013

Imran Qureshi's Roof Garden Commision at the Met - Review in the Financial Times

Common ground in a divided world

By Jan Dalley

Can art act as an ambassador? Can it span chasms of mutual mistrust and misunderstanding?

Imran Qureshi’s installation on the roof of New York’s Metropolitan Museum©Hyla Skopitz
Imran Qureshi’s installation on the roof of New York’s Metropolitan Museum
Can art act as an ambassador? Can it spin a web of connective tissue across chasms of mutual mistrust and misunderstanding? Should we expect it to? .....
........... Elsewhere in New York last week was the opening of an installation whose significance also echoes across a political chasm. Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi has covered the roof of the Metropolitan Museum with what look at first like shocking splashes of blood, the vermilion-spattered floor of an abattoir, the deadly-bright aftermath of a massacre. The Met has a lively programme of commissioned installations on the flat roof overlooking the treetops of Central Park and its ring of fiercely elegant skyscrapers – one of the greatest city-gardens in the world; rus in urbe.
Echoing that unique location, it is the garden tradition of the Mughals that is the powerful reference of Qureshi’s work here. Each of these sanguineous splodges, on closer inspection, grows an explosion of flowers, delicate misty petals painted directly on to the concrete in the neo-miniaturist tradition this artist has made his own.
It is magically beautiful – more so, even, in the aftermath of a Manhattan downpour that left most of the bloody blossoms gleaming through puddles. The title of the piece, “And How Many Rains Must Fall Before the Stains are Washed Clean”, took on an extra spin. You can’t tell whether the intricate petals and leaves are emerging from the redness like a slowly developing photograph, or whether they are gradually dissolving and disappearing into the brilliant sludge. You can’t stop looking.
Sheena Wagstaff, the installation’s curator and chairman of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, first encountered Qureshi’s work on a visit to Afghanistan. A student of the rigorous techniques of 16th- and 17th-century Islamic miniature painting, Qureshi makes meticulous, painted and gilded works with a contemporary twist: his 2006 “Moderate Enlightenment” series, disconcertingly and half tongue-in-cheek, gorgeously portrays friends and family members (sometimes in flip-flops or trainers, pulling off a T-shirt or holding an umbrella) within the formalised tradition.
And painted installations similar to the Met’s have drawn rapt attention in places as disparate as Oxford and Sharjah. It’s work in which eastern ornamentation and western abstraction melt easily into each other, to produce a powerfully distinct new mood that harnesses its own contradictions and makes a virtue of the crossplay of past and present.
Wagstaff is quick to realise the possible implications of the Met installation – “especially after Boston”, she tells me. But Qureshi himself, she says, was not to be swayed. In so much of his work – although there is no overt political statement-making – he is nudging us towards the delicate tissue of thought and beauty that links us, across cultures and across time, without ducking the punches that his imagery so elegantly delivers. A Pakistani in the heart of New York, an Islamic garden at the edge of Central Park: here is proper courage. ........  see the article/read more

Video - Imran Qureshi speaking about his Roof Garden Commission at The Met

Enjoy !