The Barbican presents a new work entitled Where the Shadows are so Deep from award-winning Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi which was specially commissioned for the Curve gallery. In his first major London commission, Qureshi presents a series of miniature paintings which draw upon the curve as a motif.
Imran Qureshi is one of the most well-known artists from Pakistan and has specialised in recreating the Mughal miniature painting tradition which was at its peak in the 16th century, the Mughal paintings from this period tended to revolve around portraying courtly life. Whilst he follows this ancient tradition, Qureshi is influenced by the here and now to introduce certain darker elements to his installation.
When visitors enter the Curve, they are likely to be surprised by miniatures hung at varying heights along the large 90-metre span of the space. But the grey walls and dark lighting force you to move closer to the painting and focus intensively on the delicate and wonderfully crafted intricate scenes.
Whilst it is easy to lose yourself in the inner world of the paintings, the presence of what seems to be splatterings of blood on the floor and the wall prevents a feeling of well-being. Qureshi was shocked by the suicide bomb attacks in Lahore in 2010 and the bloody images from the media coverage led him to create patterns of splattered blood which often includes minute foliage.
It is these opposites of small and large, beauty and violence that is at the core of the installation. Each painting is a window into a different world and as the lighting of the Curve gallery get progressively darker they seem to become more radiant. However the unnerving presence of the blood upon the paintings, wall and floor is a constant reminder of the threats to some of the finer qualities of humanity.
This thought-provoking free exhibition explores different elements of space, time and human existence. Qureshi’s work seems to be saying that whilst acknowledging the darker sides of modern life, the flowers and foliage in the blood seems to provide some hope that life will move forward to a more peaceful future.
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
If you would like more information, visit the Barbican website here
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