“Saad’s work was a discovery in the same graduation year at Slade as Katherine Murphy. His degree presentation featured columns of ciapatti bread and a folded prayer mat next to a sink. The mix of conceptual intelligence, sensual feel and almost obsessive technical skill was immediately apparent. Some of the projects Saad has realized since have been of intimidating scale and determination; none would have fit our gallery space. But also his smaller works and sculptures bear witness to Saad’s thoughtful approach and intricate craftsmanship, revealing narratives of nostalgic memories, destruction and identity loss. Despite these unsettling connotations a sense of beauty and elegance prevails in all of Saad’s objects.”
What is most striking in Saad Qureshi’s works – across the various disciplines he is operating in from his sculptures and public installations to painting and drawing – is the haptic and intensely tactile materiality of his creations in wood, metal, fabric, wattle, cement, wool and daub. When confronted with his massive room filling installations or even the sophisticated details of his small-scale sculptures one can’t help but wanting to touch the surface and discover these objects full of character and memory.
Quershi’s art is emotionally charged and geared to investigate the psychology of visual perception by probing the ever-recurring questions of identity, failed ideologies and issues of cultural belonging and separation. In addition, Qureshi is fascinated by memory and time, and how they affect landscapes – both internal and external.
Translated visually, this results in works ranging from constructed drawers with scorched landscapes to columns made of chapatti bread. Large scale dark and detailed drawings with charcoal on board to small drawings on carbon paper displaying an amalgam of symbols and mindscapes. A sculpture made of charcoal filled burnt prayer tapestries resembling testicles, based on a series of moral related killings in Pakistan, which have resonances to differing ethnicity and faiths and their controversial role in the contemporary world.
His series Recaptured consists of landscapes that spring directly from the memories of people Qureshi had interviewed about a chosen place in their past, to which they no longer have access. Those fragmented memories are then pieced together as a single scene in a drawer on a wall or on wheels, like a souvenir that can be rolled in or pulled open from the past. The concrete and the imaginary become blurred together, crystallising mood and time.
Poetic and intangible, Qureshi’s works are imagined as a bridge of communication. He seeks to deconstruct stereotypes and subvert notions of belonging to only one locality or to one culture. Qureshi’s work is drawn from the deeply rooted traditions of handcraft, with a focus on the use of natural materials while his practice explores the psychology of cultural Otherness and the endless distortions of reality engendered by flawed visual perception. For Qureshi the perception of our ‘world' and of any 'images', tangible or virtual, always resonates in multiple ways.
Following the Creative Cities Collections exhibition at the Barbican Arts Centre, Qureshi’s first museum exhibition took place at the Museum voor Moderne Kunst in Arnhem, Netherlands. Amongst others, his awards include the Royal British Society of Sculptors’ Bursary Award, the Celeste Prize, and Red Mansion Foundation Prize. Qureshi has recently realized his first major installation called Places for Nova around the Nova development in Victoria, London.
Exhibitions at the gallery:
Breeder, 2012 (group show)
Landscape and Memory, 2011 (group show)
Between, 2010 (group show)