|Saad Qureshi, Quicken, 2011|
In April of this year, Saad Qureshi was a part of an exhibition titled Down to Earth with the Gazelli Art House in London where he exhibited several of his more recent pieces of sculpture and drawing. One of the larger and more unique of his pieces was a sculpture of a demolished minaret (seen above). He talks about his inspiration for this pice in an interview (you can watch the YouTube video here) saying that he saw a documentary that talked about a suicide bomber that blew himself up in a mosk in Afghanistan and showed the destruction, part of which was a crumbled minaret that children were using as their playground. The minaret, a symbol of communication or connection between this world and the divine, intrigued Qureshi and he began to explore this idea of "failure of communication" with this piece.
Also featured in the same exhibit were a series of Qureshi's untitled drawings (example seen below). He says they are a part of an ongoing series he is doing that he likes to call "pieces of memory." In this series of drawings, he takes a memory or image in his mind from his past and sketches what he can recall of it. Sometimes he shades in certain parts or adds a splash of color to an area or he will even blot out certain parts that are not accurate. In the drawing below, there is black tape over a part of the drawing that he must have realized was not truly accurate to his memory. These sketches are on large white paper and most of it he leaves untouched, only recreating the part that he still has locked in his memory - usually just a fragment of the original scene.
|Saad Qureshi, Untitled, 2010|
Qureshi says that he can sum of his practice with what he describes as "otherness". "When does one become the other?" he says. His works and perceptions are personal, he says, and I can assume that this idea of otherness springs from his background being British Asian. In his profile on Saatchi Gallery, he mentions his personal struggle with otherness as he goes through the "twin process of emigration and immigration." When does he go from being an Asian emigrant and become a British immigrant? In his sculpture of the minaret, through the large, dramatic visual you can almost hear Qureshi asking the question, When does our ignorance of our failure to communicate with a higher power become our own destruction? Our own playground? In his series of untitled drawings, the pieces of memory, you can see Qureshi walking the line between an actual physical reality and a memory. When does one become the other?
In his bio on his website, it says that "Saad Qureshi probes the psychology of flawed visual perception and its endless distortions..." Because Qureshi is focusing on visual perception, something completely subjective, he admits that his art is going to mean something different to each viewer that comes into contact with it. But I think that is exactly what he intends - not to necessarily communicate a specific concrete idea, but instead to force his viewer to exercise their own perception.
In his interview with the Gazeli Art House, he mentions how his studio is his bedroom at his parents house and his parents don't speak English. He says he forms his ideas and thoughts in English, but when it comes time to explain them to his parents, he has to translate and, in the process, the ideas morph and transform into something new. In a way, he says, his artwork is becoming bilingual, meaning more than one thing, once again playing with this idea of perception and otherness.