Revisiting Imran Qureshi’s Roof Garden Commission: Miniature as Medium

imranRoof 1024x681 Revisiting Imran Qureshis Roof Garden Commission: Miniature as Medium

If you are like me, you might not have realized how closely Imran Qureshi’s installation on this roof of the Met this summer is connected to the tradition of miniature painting in South Asia. Certainly the red splatters remind one more immediately of Jackson Pollock, as well as of bloodstains, even if the suggestion of violence felt somehow unreal when seen over the trees of Central Park. When I saw the Pakistani artist’s more traditionally realized miniature painting below, it clicked into place for me.

Roof Qureshi Blessings 600 Revisiting Imran Qureshis Roof Garden Commission: Miniature as Medium

Qureshi’s 2011 miniature on traditional wasli paper, Blessings on the Land of My Love, uses the same splattered motif as the roof garden, only organized around the drainage grate on an interior courtyard. Blessings Upon the Land of My Love was also a 2011 site-specific installation at the Sharjah Biennial 10 that used this red vegetal patterning to take on the architectural structure.  The miniature on paper suggests that Qureshi sees the same vision whether writ small or large, and that moving the miniature off the page and putting it in dialogue with architecture still retains some essence of the miniature. In fact, considering the installation in closer relation to miniature painting allows one to see both how Qureshi employed formal elements of his traditional miniature training, in the Pahari style foliage, and even to connect it with the Mughal practice of employing pictorial artists to decorate their palaces with large wall paintings in addition to illustrating books. In a sense, miniature painting is a medium that the artist works through, rather than resides in.

Qureshi teaser Revisiting Imran Qureshis Roof Garden Commission: Miniature as Medium Imran Qureshi717 Revisiting Imran Qureshis Roof Garden Commission: Miniature as Medium

Charlie Chaplin: Icon Behind the Wall

Chaplin Kid Auto Races Charlie Chaplin: Icon Behind the Wall

This screenshot shows Charlie Chaplin in his most famous persona of “the tramp” in the 1914 film, Kid Auto Races at Venice. At this time, Chaplin was 25 years old and then was his second film. His fame and iconic look–baggy pants and bowler hat–spread quickly. Not only did they spread fast and quickly, but he endures as an avant-garde icon in parts of the world far from Hollywood.

Chaplin graffiti Tiblisi Charlie Chaplin: Icon Behind the Wall

My friend took this picture on the street in Tiblisi, Georgia two months ago–100 years after Kid Auto Races. To be familiar with Chaplin today is hardly surprising. But Chaplin has a life as an avant-garde symbol dating from his first film. Despite two World Wars followed by a Cold War, Chaplin infiltrated deep into Russia and Eastern Europe, becoming an avant-garde icon even as access to films was limited and sporadic. Chaplin comes up surprisingly often in avant-garde journals, designs, and collages–adding an often-lacking bathos and humor.

KinoFoto1922 Charlie Chaplin: Icon Behind the Wall

Barbara Stepanova, Kino Foto, 1922 (Russia)

Evzen Markalous Laughter 1926 Charlie Chaplin: Icon Behind the Wall

Evzen Markalous, Laughter, 1926 (Czechoslovakia)

Berman Charlie 1928 Charlie Chaplin: Icon Behind the Wall

M. Berman, Charlie III, 1928 (Poland)

 

 

 

Mladen Stilinovic Opening at eflux

P1070522 768x1024 Mladen Stilinovic Opening at eflux

Installation shot of Autocensorship from “Mladen Stilinović: Zero for Conduct; A retrospective,” 2013

I loved seeing that eflux in NYC has an exhibition opening of the Croatian avant-garde artist this Friday, because his retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb was a fantastic show. I wrote about the retrospective here, and specifically about the artist’s books on view here.

Mladen Stilinovic  Artist At Work  1977 1024x682 Mladen Stilinovic Opening at eflux

Image from Artist at Work, 1977

Artists are stereotypical bohemians who create when inspired, rather than being industrious citizens, and the photograph above is from his seminal series The Artist At Work, which shows Stilinovic sleeping and lounging in bed. This is not an unpoliticized act, or mere commentary on such stereotypes, as Stilinovic suggests in his text “In Praise of Laziness.”

An Artist Who Cannot Speak English Stilinovic e1395846288125 Mladen Stilinovic Opening at eflux

An Artist Who Cannot Speak English Is No Artist, 1994

The eflux exhibition is up through May 31, but at the opening this Friday the artist will be in conversation with Ana Janevski and Dan Byers. Based on his witty, ironic written texts, such as materialized in the more recent work above, I imagine it will be an interesting conversation if you are in New York.