Saturday, February 27, 2016

'Violence is all around me': Imran Qureshi on his disturbing miniatures

Source: Guardian

'Violence is all around me': Imran Qureshi on his disturbing miniatures

Mughal masters began painting miniatures five centuries ago. Now Imran Qureshi has taken up the same squirrel-hair brush as those before him – but his tiny trees are filled with splashes of blood and violence

Evoking carnage … the roof terrace at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, painted over by Imran Qureshi.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Shahzia Sikander in Huffington Post

Source: Huffington Post

Religion vs. Secularism In Art and How Shahzia Sikander and Jim Shaw Turn Social Alienation Into Spiritual Engagement

12/24/2015 11:59 am ET | Updated Feb 25, 2016

Left: Shahzia Sikander, detail from Hood’s Red Rider #2, 1997, vegetable color, dry pigment, watercolor, tea on hand-prepared wassail paper. A Hindu goddess in the form of Durga or Kali incongruously wearing a burqa required of Afghani women in public. Right: Jim Shaw: Thrift store find depicting painting of Butterfly Jesus.

The voice or vision that has moved a community to make it their governing and identifying expression — their mythos — cannot be suppressed. (Think of the Hindu Mahabarata, the Mayan Popol Vuh, the Buddhist Tipitaka, the Hebrew Torah, the Christian New Testament, the Muslim Quran, the Chinese Tao, the Navajo Diné Bahaneʼ, the Egyptian Book of the Dead.) Even when genocide has nearly wiped out a population, whatever is beautiful about the communal narrative and its attendant iconography will survive to become disseminated and perpetuated somewhere else, at some other time, perhaps again and again. This is the history confronting the secular modernists who find that the tropes of religion will not be retired by a considerable percentage of the population no matter how much they are seemingly supplanted by science, reason, logic and abstract thought. It is a persistence that seculars should never forget, otherwise they will deceive themselves with the belief that the persistence of the religious is a matter of education (or lack of) when it is not. It is a matter of artistic beauty, something that the materialism and empiricism of modernity with all its science cannot sufficiently supply to a large percentage of the human race who crave transcendence.

Shahzia Sikander and Jim Shaw are two of the rare artists who have been assimilated into the contemporary secular art world despite that they betray it by fostering obsessions with the visual signage of religion and religious art. They manage to assimilate because — and to use a science fiction analogy that Shaw might appreciate — they appropriate and re-imagine their art as if their imagery inhabited two different dimensions, with one set of features shining brightly in one dimension and another completely different set of features, perhaps even oppositional to the first, brilliantly on display in a second dimension. More mundanely put, Sikander and Shaw are at the same time speaking two different languages: one to the secular audience literate in the subtle meanings of irony and criticism of the religious, and one to the religious audience literate in the signs and symbols largely lost to the modern secularists for their lack of emersion in the traditions of faith.


Shahzia Sikander, Hood’s Red Rider #2,” 1997, vegetable color, dry pigment, watercolor, tea on hand-prepared wassail paper. A male figure in the center resembling the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahangir as a young man is in the company of two multiple-armed Hindu goddesses in the form of Durga or Kali, one flying and armed with deadly weapons while wearing a burqa required of Afghani women in public. The winged horse, Buraq, from heaven and with a woman’s head, in the Quran flies Muhammad on his mi’rāj to heaven, is also reproduced as small, black emblems, as if a passport stamp approving our passage to the Muslim heaven.