Violence is a word that etymologically means "that violates" that is something that goes beyond the limit of the will of others. As it is easy to understand, human violence has ancient roots, as old as human history itself. Homo homini lupus said Plautus in the Asinaria alluding to human selfishness; concept later taken up by Hobbes in De Cive to indicate the state of nature where men, blinded by selfishness, fight each other to survive.
In any case, if the history of man is a history of violence, there has been no lack of sensational examples of political struggle based on the refusal of any act of violence: Gandhi's nonviolence and following Martin Luther King, the pacifist movements, ecological movements, movements for civil rights and cultural rights, etc. There is therefore, in a world structured on violence, a spirit of hope, the alternative idea of a different world. And this hope inevitably passes from culture, from the fact that we can control and dominate violent instincts and write a new page in the history of humanity. The Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi knows it well and in his evocative works, which recall all the violence with which we are surrounded, he always finds a way to communicate to us the hope that a new world is possible and that if only we want it we can find in us the seed of rebirth.
My work is all about something beautiful emerging out of something that looks very violent and aggressive.
Award-winning international leading artist Qureshi has revolutionized the practice of the miniature of Mughal courts of the late sixteenth century making it fully contemporary, experiential, installative, performative and combining it with decidedly current issues. The blood red color typical of his installations recalls death, violence. Flowers, leaves, naturalistic motifs, life, hope. And in this duality so strong and emblematic of our contemporaneity as well as of our history lies the artistic extraordinariness of Qureshi who makes us reflect and at the same time move.
Inaugurated on March 7, 2020 Out of Blue is the title of his latest installation created to raise funds for the renovation of the school of girls in Karachi, Pakistan (Khatoo-i-Pakistan Government Girls School). It is an initiative of the well-known Pakistani singer Shehzad Roy and his Zindagi Trust Foundation very active in supporting education. An unprecedented initiative in Pakistan where there is no public art or artistic education program. Qureshi joined the initiative by creating a site-specific installation, donating some of his works that can thus be sold to raise funds and making his international fame available to bring attention to such a delicate and important theme.
I feel that once you have reached a certain level, then it is time for you to give back to society.
And education in these times in all the world is one of the main challenges for the future. Not surprisingly Nelson Mandela said:
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world; Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.
Contrary to other works by Qureshi where the color is dark red, Out of Blue is a triumph of blue. A choice linked not only to aesthetics, therefore a harmonious color towards the context but above all linked to life. A blue sea, a sea of hope invades the terrace of the Karachi girls' school and can be seen from the windows of the classes that welcome the students, stimulating a sense of relaxation and concentration.
The deeper the blue becomes, the more strongly it calls man towards the infinite, awakening in him a desire for the pure and, finally, for the supernatural... The brighter it becomes, the more it loses its sound, until it turns into silent stillness and becomes white. (Wassily Kandinsky)
Out of Blue is the beginning of a revolution. A cultural revolution.
All images: Imran Qureshi, Out of Blue, 2020. Site specific installation created in cooperation of Zindagi Trust Foundation and Shehzad Roy to support Khatoo-i-Pakistan Government Girls School. Courtesy of the artist