Barbican has commissioned the award-winning Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi to create a new body of work for The Curve.
For his first major London commission, Qureshi presents “Where the Shadows are so Deep”, 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 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.”
The artist 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.