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The Art of Experimenting

Author: Marjorie Husain      Publications: Preview      Dated: Not Known

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Safdar Ali Qureshi is an artist whose work involves a piquant revival of traditional skills with the intervention of contemporary viewpoint and technology. ln his latest series of work-which will be exhibited on November 2 at Chawkandi Art, Karachi-he combines digital prints, collage and painting; with minute linear marks personalising and adding drama to the compositions.

Qureshi, who was tutored in the art of miniature painting by Bashir Ahmed and Imran Qureshi, graduated with a degree in the subject from the National College of Arts, Lahore, in 2005. He now divides his time between Lahore, where he primarily focuses on his work, and the fine arts department of the Institute of Art and Design, Jamshoro Sindh, where he is a visiting faculty member.

From his first group showing in the South Asian Calligraphers display held at the Alhamra Cutural Complex, Lahore, in 2005. Qureshis input made an impact on the viewer, his contribution was distinctive and the inclusion of his work in further shows was memorable. His work was seen in Karachi for the first time in 2006, and since then, has been exhibited throughout Pakistan as well as Dhaka, Dubai Abu Dhabi, Oman, India and Algeria.

Qureshi is an artist who infuses personal involvement in his art, amplifying a meaningful visual essence. His early art tuition in Sindh was financed by his work with textiles and tailoring before he gained admission to NCA in 2002. Now he refers to his own life and initial struggle to become an artist by introducing tiny, stichlike motifs. His observations are insightful as he examines the question of identify, the co-existence of miniature art while he experimentally addresses universal contemporary themes.

Until the middle of the 19th century most art was basically directed toward a local audience whereas artists today enjoy a wider experience and the diversity of contemporary art that reflects on the plurality of culture. At present, there is a vast range demanding a greater response and acceptance, making constant adjustment and introducing understanding on the differing lifestyles lived globally in our time.

Among Qureshis artworks that will be on display, one discovers digital images cut into strips and glued to the wasli surface to create tiered layers of vertical colour that, in my view, resembles dissolved garden images. Further experiments include a circle of tiny strips, and eschewing colour, there is a sequence of pen work on wasli using multiple marks to create vertical and horizontal lines.

A particularly graceful composition portrays references to a repetitive female form, the flow of the costume ensuring an interesting contrast to the linear, textural effect of the disciplined background. Qureshi is, above all, an experimentalist and he appears to be progressing into a visually innovatory direction. His determination continues as he endeavours to evoke the thrill of new dialogue based on his desire to evaluate and pay homage to the traditions of the past.