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The Roof Garden Commission: Imran Qureshi's Miniature Paintings

The exhibition is made possible by Bloomberg.

Additional support is provided by Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky.

Exhibition objects

The Roof Garden Commission: Imran Qureshi's Miniature Paintings

July 29, 2013–February 2, 2014

This installation pairs works on paper by Imran Qureshi (born 1972, Hyderabad, Pakistan) with historic miniatures from the Museum's collection. It is presented to complement the artist's painted commission on the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden.

The exquisitely detailed paintings by the artists who worked for the Mughal emperors (1526–1857) and other courts on the Indian subcontinent inspired these miniatures. At Lahore's National College of Arts (NCA), Qureshi studied the rigorous techniques of this tradition, which range from gilding and hand crafting the thickly plied, carefully burnished paper supports to the careful application of color with tiny handmade brushes of squirrel fur. As assistant professor in miniatures at NCA, Qureshi now teaches this practice to a new generation of students.

Qureshi continues to find room to experiment within the well-defined strictures of this traditional discipline. In works of the early 2000s, he layered the pages of old textbooks found at a flea market with drawings of scissors or plantlike forms. In more recent examples, such as his ongoing series Moderate Enlightenment, detailed portraits of friends and family in contemporary dress are set in sumptuously gilded landscapes, replete with the meticulous detail found in folios commissioned by the Mughal emperors. For Qureshi, there is an exquisite tension between the stringent parameters of this ancient practice and the modernity of his sitters—one that speaks, in part, to the frictions of a world in which novelty and orthodoxy collide.

Related Exhibition: The Roof Garden Commission: Imran Qureshi (on view May 14–November 3, 2013)