are these ALL your colours?
Imran Qureshi’s solo show ‘All are the colour of my heart’ opened on the 1st of November 2010 at Rohtas 2 (yes again Rohtas 2). This post is on a discussion that took place amongst a small gathering 2 days later in the MA studios at NCA.
Image courtesy Amina Ansari
In the various views discussed on Imran Qureshi’s show many interesting points were raised. Opinions ranged from one end to the other – some liked the show a lot; others expressed bored indifference. These opposing views gave way to questions on repetition and sincerity of an artist’s intent in contrast to technical ability and a display of skill.
How important is it for an artist to constantly reinvent themselves? One argued ‘it is essential’, the other replied ‘not always’. These questions, though simply worded, are so important and so potent in today’s contemporary art practice.
I feel that the context of the work in question is vital. While I enjoyed the rendering of the work, which was beautifully and impeccably finished, I found the execution a step backwards from Imran Qureshi’s previous concerns. Possibly the most exciting aspect could have been the framing of the work. I loved it. But I realised I was greatly opposed to the fact that the work was framed and ‘beautified’ for a gallery exhibit in a gallery space.
Let me present a broader viewpoint to explain why. It has been a bone of contention with me for a long time that we never get to see the works of many major contemporary artists in Pakistan anymore – some examples being Imran Qureshi, Bani Abidi, Rashid Rana, etc. Many reasons are cited with costs and market being primary. All said and done, this is an area that is greatly neglected. If these artists (some of whom have produced brilliant works) are going to set standards and new milestones for Pakistani art, how in the world is the Pakistani art world, especially the students and fresh graduates, going to benefit and learn anything if they are never going to experience the work?
In no way do I feel that the artists should be obligated to educate and take on responsibilities that are not theirs, but there has to be a desire to share the work back home too.
And what has to be shared is their independent, experimental work; Work that is exciting, fresh and which might not necessarily have a commercial market in Pakistan.
Image courtesy http://www.corvi-mora.com/imranqureshi.php
The work that Imran Qureshi did in Kabul, Afghanistan, Oxford, England, Mogi Nagar, India was breathtakingly beautiful. The same imagery interplayed with the response to the space at hand, the frame of mind at the time of the work produced and a playful nature that suggested something more serious – a freedom to expand and question the realm of miniature that I feel he has been dealing with on and off in his practice and daily life.
Coming to now, I was excited to see some of Imran Qureshi’s latest work. But perhaps it was the build-up that led to me have greater expectations but left me feeling I wanted more. More more more. I liked the work. That’s it. Liked – Just that mild was my reaction. However, I didn’t find the essence of Imran Qureshi in that work beyond the obvious signature flowers. I feel that we needed to see more of him and less of picture perfect framed wall pieces. The unruliness of the energetic splashes and the attempt to control them with a kalam would have perhaps been more exciting and disturbing if they had been dealt with differently.
Like two people pointed out at the discussion, the work seemed forced, contrived even.
What was it about the show that made me uneasy? I don’t know. It’s not the blood or the bloodied hand and body imprints. Maybe it’s just me. Sometimes I don’t know what I want from the artists too. I hope to talk to the artist soon enough to hear what he has to say.
At this point I think it’s important to know that within the art world separate opinions and preferences of apparently recognizable and standardized aesthetics exist. It is imperative to constructive criticism. And in my writings, a necessary ingredient. Because the Sunday reviews just don’t offer that much on the menu anymore.