Imran Qureshi’s “And they still seek the traces of blood” (2013) has become renowned for its ability to invoke emotional responses from viewers as this intrinsic work is printed on thousands of crumpled sheets of paper and gathered to form a precipitous heap. The title of his work, “And they still seek the traces of blood quotes a poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz1 with reference to individuals who have been killed and buried without their lives honored nor the events surrounding their deaths investigated.
Sources of inspiration
The Pakistani artist Qureshi’s work is in reference to current events in Pakistan and serves to highlight the types of violence and discrimination that is imposed upon innocent people around the world every day. Qureshi’s work is visually striking while it calls forth profound imagery of violence. The use of light and darkness in the surrounding hall makes his work emotionally charged and as described by some viewers almost brutal.
Video: Imran Qureshi speaks about his work
Beauty and violence
Qureshi’s exhibition uses the binary combination of light and darkness. Qureshi utilizes the color of the rooms of the nighttime landscapes of Venetian painting, often depicting landscapes and interior courtyards in which every stone and leaf is pedantically arranged; each delicate painting is tainted by the blood-red stains that impinges on the picturesque scene, uncompromisingly annihilating the delicacy and balance. In doing this, Qureshi creates a space of binary elements, beauty and violence.
Video: Nuit Blanche, Paris, 2014
Throughout these somber rooms, you have to carefully feel your way slowly and cautiously; as Qureshi’s method of presentation causes for the make references to the colonial architectures and domains in which servants were kept in small compartments. Through the surrounding darkness, the paintings burn into the viewers provoking them to reflect upon the conditions as they attempt to discover a way out of the labyrinth of depicted violence or to create a split second in which viewers can escape the perpetual succession of creation and violence.
Qureshi’s work reflects upon his own lived experience, expressing the memories of his living through decades of precarity, martial law, uprisings and massacres, terrorism, political. His artwork is without a doubt metaphorical expressing both life and death, darkness and light. His work is so completely profound as the metaphorical and binary nature of his work is infinite, depicting a teetering balance of beauty and life versus the dark blood red spattered imagery associated with violence and death.