How Many Rains Must Fall Before the Stains Are Washed Clean?
May 14th-November 3rd, 2013.
NowJournal Photos and text by Hanne H7L
Long have I admired the exquisite balance of fluidity and refined detail in the Persian style of miniature painting, going so far as to use such images as background pieces in my own painting. Nonetheless I am at my core an installation artist, and to see contemporary artist Imran Qureshi amalgamate these two such desperate genres was an absolute delight on the rooftop garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art this past Monday. The work expresses a quality of quiet contemplation that is anti-monumental in nature, playing contrarian to the three dimensional sculptural fare that typically adorns the roof of the Met. Drawing its title from a poem by Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Imran creates a spectacle in two dimensions and in one color.
Imran splashes red paint across the surface of the roof and draws in with a tiny paintbrush, treating the rooftop as though it were a vast canvas. I admire this quality of drawing in atypical media; that is to say Imran does not paint with the brush so much as he draws and renders texture with utmost delicacy, true to his miniature painting roots. All the same, this installation is site-specific in its use of the two dimensional floor surface that in the artists’ own words, echoes the violent environment in his city of Lahore in Pakistan around the year 2009 where an area would be transformed into a bloody landscape within seconds of a bomb detonating. Amidst dripping, chaotic splatters that suggest stains of blood emerge meticulously crafted leaves that are right at home in the vast landscape garden that is Central Park. Periodically these patterns converge into the shapes of flowers in bloom, which Imran describes as representing hope in the presence of such chaotic surroundings.
Applying miniature painting’s craftsmanship on the scale of an architecturally informed installation, Imran has created a work in two dimensions that transcends the boundaries of its derivative genre. It is indeed much more than a piece of flat art to look at, but an experience to be appreciated for the space on and in which it resides.