Where the Shadows Are So Deep – The Curve Gallery at The Barbican
Qureshi had graduated from Lahore University in miniature painting, and he returned to this theme for his commission at The Curve gallery in the Barbican.
The Curve is a somewhat unusual gallery as it is long and narrow and, as its name implies, is curved. You can’t therefore see the end of the gallery when you first enter it. This means that it is not suitable for all types of exhibition, in this case, though, I felt that the nature of the gallery enhanced the exhibition (or to put it another way the artist produced an exhibition ideally suited to the gallery). The exhibition consists of a series of miniature paintings and the deeper you go in to the gallery the darker the paintings become. The miniatures are displayed at different levels and in some instances seem to burst out of the frame as the design continues on the floor and the wall surrounding the paintings. It was very interesting to see such a large number of miniature paintings diplayed together. You might think that a display of 35 miniatures could be lost in a large room. But the power of the paintings and their theme, together with the exquisite nature of the technique meant that it worked very well.
Some of the images evoke beauty, but many of them have a violent undercurrent running through them. In some instances, the blood-red colour continues on to the wall around the painting and runs down the wall to the floor where it spreads out into a blossom like pattern. Perhaps as a symbol of an end to the violence or of hope.
The paintings themselves seem very much in the tradition of Indian miniatures with fine details of trees and landscapes. There does not, however, seem to be any representation of people in the scenes. There is a very strong use of colour in the paintings – especially red!
I found the work equally challenging and stimulating, forcing the viewer to consider what the artist is presenting and his intentions behind it.
There is an interesting interview with Qureshi by David Shariatmadari in The Guardian