Location: The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden
Press Preview: Monday, May 13, 10:00 a.m.–noon
A large-scale site-specific work of art by Imran Qureshi (b. 1972, Hyderabad, Pakistan)—an artist known for his unique style of combining the motifs, symbolism, and ornamental techniques of Islamic art with modern conceptual approaches—is the 2013 installation on The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, opening May 14. Entitled The Roof Garden Commission: Imran Qureshi, 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. 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.
The exhibition is made possible by Bloomberg.
Additional support is provided by Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky.
“We are proud to present this extraordinary new commission,” stated Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum. “For years, Imran Qureshi has created emotionally wrought, thought-provoking installations devoted to themes of tragedy and regeneration, reflecting conditions that prevail almost as a way of life in his home country—and that now, sadly, also resonate in the wake of the recent Boston Marathon tragedy. The installation’s presence on the Roof Garden this summer creates an especially timely and evocative commentary on these devastating events, and encourages us to respond thoughtfully both as individuals and as citizens of a shared community.”
“We are honored 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 reveling in the ability of paint and color 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 color 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.”
About the Artist
Born in Hyderabad, Pakistan, in 1972, Imran Qureshi is considered one of the leading figures in developing a contemporary aesthetic that integrates the motifs and rigorous techniques of traditional miniature painting, which flourished in the Mughal courts of the Indian subcontinent at the end of the 16th century, with contemporary themes. Qureshi received his B.A. in Fine Art in 1993 from the National College of Arts in Lahore, where as assistant professor he now teaches new generations of artists. He was named Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year” for 2013 and inaugurated the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin last month with a major solo exhibition. He won the 2011 Sharjah Biennial Prize for his installation Blessings Upon the Land of my Love. Qureshi was also one of 15 Pakistani artists featured in the Asia Society exhibition Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan (2009-2010). Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at the Rohtas Gallery in Lahore (2010), Chawkandi Art in Karachi (2010), Corvi-Mora Gallery in London (2007), Canvas Gallery in Karachi (2007), Modern Art Oxford (2007), and Lalit Kala Akademi in New Delhi (2006). His work was also featured at the Singapore Biennale in 2006 and the Sydney Biennale in 2012. The artist lives and works in Lahore.
In conjunction with the installation, the first of a new series of books which consider the annual Roof Garden projects has been published. The Roof Garden Commission: Imran Qureshi features a preface by Sheena Wagstaff, the Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of the Museum’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, and an interview with the artist by Navina Najat Haidar, Curator in the Department of Islamic Art, and Ian Alteveer, Associate Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, both of the Metropolitan Museum, exploring Qureshi’s creative process and the artistic traditions that have informed it. The 64-page paperback is published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press ($14.95).
The Roof Garden Commission: Imran Qureshi and its publication were conceived by Sheena Wagstaff, and organized by Ian Alteveer; graphics are by Norie Morimoto, a Graphic Designer of the Metropolitan Museum’s Design Department.
A Sunday at the Met afternoon of related programs will take place in early fall.
The installation will be featured on the Metropolitan Museum’s website at www.metmuseum.org.
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Sandwiches, snacks, dessert, and beverage service—including espresso, cappuccino, iced tea, soft drinks, wine, and beer—will be available at the Roof Garden Café daily from 10:00 a.m. until closing, as weather permits. A cocktail bar will also be open on the Roof Garden on Friday and Saturday evenings (5:30–8:00 p.m.)
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May 10, 2013