has commissioned the award-winning Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi to create a new work for the Curve. For his first major London commission, Qureshi presents a series of exquisite miniature paintings, drawing upon the curve as a motif in this tradition. Beginning with gentle scenes of nature, the sequence of works gradually introduces darker elements, subtly implying the uncertainty of what lies around the bend. Hung at varying heights along the dramatic 90-metre span of the space, these delicate, jewel-like paintings lure the visitor in, demanding an altogether different kind of looking. Imran Qureshi: Where the Shadows are so Deep opened in the Curve gallery on Thursday 18 February 2016.
Imran Qureshi said: In my site-specific installations I always try to create a dialogue between the architecture of a site and my practice. I have been painting directly on the floor and walls of all my work in situ since 2001. When I visited the Curve I was awed by the scale and flow of the space. I thought of doing something in that space which would be completely unexpected, something very simple but strong. Miniature painting is at the root of my practice: it completely informs my thinking and sensibility. In the tradition of Mughal miniature paintings, a curve-like shape has always been an important element in the formal depiction of a landscape.
Imran Qureshi is one of the foremost artists from Pakistan, having reclaimed the historic craft of miniature painting and stretched its ornamental traditions to their limits. Indian and Persian miniatures in the 16th century revolved around courtly life and for Qureshi, the style continues to act as a space for social commentary, often with the addition of very subtle darker elements amidst its intricate scenes.
Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts, Barbican, said Im proud to announce our latest Curve commission by one of Pakistans leading contemporary artists. Over the last 20 years Imran Qureshi has expanded the possibilities of the miniaturist painting tradition in which he was schooled, while at the same time engaging with site-specific installations of sublime proportions and beauty. Qureshi immediately saw the Curve as a vast canvas that would allow him to play with scale, narrative and the polarities of dark and light. I expect his installation to be delicate and yet arresting quite unlike any other we have staged.
Born in Hyderabad, Pakistan, in 1972, Imran Qureshi was made Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year in 2013 with an exhibition at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, in 2014. Recent international exhibitions include a site-specific installation for the opening of the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto (2014), Imran Qureshi: The God of Small Things at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in Michigan (2014) and The Roof Garden Commission at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2013). He participated in the Venice Biennales in 2015 and 2013, was commissioned by Art on the Underground in 2014 and produced a major installation for Sharjah Biennial in 2011. He lives and works in Lahore.