Originally trained as a miniature painter, while absorbed by performance and printmaking at art school, Imran Qureshi (born in Hyderabad, based in Lahore) is now lauded for the tragedy and tenderness that envelops his creative practice. By which the underlying energy that colours his works proves as involving in the detailed paintwork of his miniature scenes, as it is in the more explosive murals cannoned over rooftops and onto courtyards. For Qureshi his practice is a meditative act, whereupon he monitors the events that infiltrate his life, and then decides how best to introduce and organise them onto paper, canvas and concrete. Everything becomes relevant – a tall tree entangled by weeds, a man on a rooftop throwing a coloured kite to the sky, or a series of incidents recorded as bullets of paint thrown over a canvas – these are for Qureshi the raw ingredients of the reality that surrounds him. Grounded by a desire to deliver simple sentiments as a series of investigative and inventive artworks, that have in recent years had his audiences walk over a rooftop at the MET in New York, and be surrounded by a sculptural colossus in Paris; Qureshi’s images and installations are as beautiful as they are brutal, sealed with lashings of burgundy blood.
The artist’s turn of scale was originally recognised in his Sharjah Biennial commission in 2011, for which he decorated the courtyard of the Beit Al Serkal building with the visually arresting work Blessings Upon the Land of my Love. Qureshi’s signature style of layering intricate detail over more impulsive mark making was heralded with his receiving the Biennial Prize that year. That in turn saw him awarded the Deutsche Bank’s artist of the year in 2013, which like a monsoon led to a whole series of high profile shows at the KunstHalle, Berlin, 2013; Museo d’arte Cotemporanea, Rome, 2013; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp, 2013; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2013; in less than twelve months. Exhibiting at the Eli and Edyth Broad Art Museum, Michigan, with The God of Small Things, 2014 and with Ikon Gallery, 2014 thereafter, before going onto Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, an inaugural solo show that came off of the back of two major site specific commissions: And They Still Seek the Trace of Blood at the Bibliothéque Ste-Geneviève, 2014; and Two Loves at Quai d’Austerlitz, 2014; culminating in his receiving the US State Department’s International Medal of Arts Award 2016.