The Roof Garden Commission: Imran Qureshi
May 14–November 3, 2013
This commission presents the first large-scale installation in the United States by the artist Imran Qureshi (born 1972, Hyderabad, Pakistan). The sources for the lush patterns that sprout from his spills of paint are the detailed works on paper that he makes in the style of the miniaturists
who worked for the Mughal court (1526–1857). Within the strictures of this ancient discipline,
Qureshi continues to find remarkable room to experiment. In his exquisite miniatures, the artist pairs richly detailed landscapes with figures in modern dress, images of contemporary life in Pakistan, or portraits of himself at work. As they did in the Mughal era, miniatures remain for Qureshi a vehicle for conveying complex political references within the parameters of their small dimensions and refined imagery.
In recent years Qureshi has transplanted his landscapes from the boundaries of the page to specific architectural environments. 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. Here, on the Roof Garden, the blooms also echo the verdant foliage of Central Park—a green space conceived in the nineteenth century to function as a site of respite and tranquility in the midst of the chaotic and cacophonous city.
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. "Yes, these forms stem from the effects of violence," he said of his visceral blooms of paint. "They are mingled with the color of blood, but, at the same time, this is where a dialogue with life, with new beginnings and fresh hope starts." 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.