Nusra Latif Qureshi
Promises of a Parallel Cosmos
Warrnambool Art Gallery
24 April – 20 June 2021
Promises of a Parallel Cosmos presents key artworks by Nusra Latif Qureshi spanning 2011-2019, alongside a new artwork entitled Maps of Lost Coves developed in response to WAG’s collection of Colonial holdings.
In Maps of Lost Coves, Qureshi directly references and appropriates imagery from three prominent-male-European-painters of the 19th Centaury Australian Colonial era: Robert Dowling, Daniel Clarke and John Glover. Characterised by their depictions of vast hinterland, abundant flora, and decisions to stage, sometimes imagine, the traditional custodian subject; Latif Qureshi questions the social, political and personal motivations behind their decision-making processes. Encasing the installation, a presumed European man looks dejectedly at the landscape across the room, joined by woollen threads; a maker of severed familial, social and country connections due to colonisation, and a reference to the prosperous wool trade of the time. For Maps of Lost Coves, Qureshi imagines an Australian landscape un-poisoned and devoid of greed and a lust for opulence.
This exhibition is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.
In October 2019, Nusra was the 2019 Bulgari Art Award recipient. As part of the award, Art Gallery of New South Wales acquired six of her paintings for their collection.
These words helped me anchor the work LAUD THE THREE METAMORPHOSES produced in late 2017 and early 2018. Sometimes not many words are required, and sometimes they do not have to illustrate anything.
THE THREE METAMORPHOSES
THREE metamorphoses of the spirit do I designate to you: how the spirit becometh a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.
Many heavy things are there for the spirit, the strong load-bearing spirit in which reverence dwelleth: for the heavy and the heaviest longeth its strength.
What is heavy? so asketh the load-bearing spirit; then kneeleth it down like the camel, and wanteth to be well laden.
What is the heaviest thing, ye heroes? asketh the load-bearing spirit, that I may take it upon me and rejoice in my strength.
Is it not this: To humiliate oneself in order to mortify one’s pride? To exhibit one’s folly in order to mock at one’s wisdom?
Or is it this: To desert our cause when it celebrateth its triumph? To ascend high mountains to tempt the tempter?
Or is it this: To feed on the acorns and grass of knowledge, and for the sake of truth to suffer hunger of soul?
Or is it this: To be sick and dismiss comforters, and make friends of the deaf, who never hear thy requests?
Or is it this: To go into foul water when it is the water of truth, and not disclaim cold frogs and hot toads?
Or is it this: To love those who despise us, and give one’s hand to the phantom when it is going to frighten us?
All these heaviest things the load-bearing spirit taketh upon itself: and like the camel, which, when laden, hasteneth into the wilderness, so hasteneth the spirit into its wilderness.
But in the loneliest wilderness happeneth the second metamorphosis: here the spirit becometh a lion; freedom will it capture, and lordship in its own wilderness.
Its last Lord it here seeketh: hostile will it be to him, and to its last God; for victory will it struggle with the great dragon.
What is the great dragon which the spirit is no longer inclined to call Lord and God? “Thou-shalt,” is the great dragon called. But the spirit of the lion saith, “I will.”
“Thou-shalt,” lieth in its path, sparkling with gold- a scale-covered beast; and on every scale glittereth golden, “Thou shalt!”
The values of a thousand years glitter on those scales, and thus speaketh the mightiest of all dragons: “All the values of things- glitter on me.
All values have already been created, and all created values- do I represent. Verily, there shall be no ‘I will’ any more. Thus speaketh the dragon.
My brethren, wherefore is there need of the lion in the spirit? Why sufficeth not the beast of burden, which renounceth and is reverent?
To create new values- that, even the lion cannot yet accomplish: but to create itself freedom for new creating- that can the might of the lion do.
To create itself freedom, and give a holy Nay even unto duty: for that, my brethren, there is need of the lion.
To assume the ride to new values- that is the most formidable assumption for a load-bearing and reverent spirit. Verily, unto such a spirit it is preying, and the work of a beast of prey.
As its holiest, it once loved “Thou-shalt”: now is it forced to find illusion and arbitrariness even in the holiest things, that it may capture freedom from its love: the lion is needed for this capture.
But tell me, my brethren, what the child can do, which even the lion could not do? Why hath the preying lion still to become a child?
Innocence is the child, and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a game, a self-rolling wheel, a first movement, a holy Yea.
Aye, for the game of creating, my brethren, there is needed a holy Yea unto life: its own will, willeth now the spirit; his own world winneth the world’s outcast.
Three metamorphoses of the spirit have I designated to you: how the spirit became a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.Thus spake Zarathustra. And at that time he abode in the town which is called The Pied Cow.
Here is a video link:
LAUD THE THREE METAMORPHOSES-III
Gouache, watercolour and acrylic on illustration board
Laud the three metamorphoses I, II & III
Detail of one of the small portraits
The solo exhibition, my 3rd with Sutton Gallery, opens on 26th May 4-6pm and goes on until 23rd June 2018
Nusra Latif Qureshi
Views From The Gold Pavillion
Saturday 26th May, 4-6pm
26th May – 23rd June, 2018
Nusra Latif Qureshi trained in Lahore in the Mughal miniature painting tradition and has developed a distinct and rich visual arts practice. Her new works employ motifs taken from these traditions juxtaposed with contemporary forms and media to reveal Qureshi’s personal responses to societies in turmoil.
Her title, Views from The Gold Pavilion, imagines an elevated vantage point, an exclusive perch to look down upon the circus beneath. A pavilion offers a spectacular space for observation, separated from the masses – though its walls are perforated, letting in the rain, dust or hot wind gusts which connect it’s inhabitants to the civilization jostling in the dust below.
A privileged vantage point is further expressed in this series of jewel like oval works laden in gold and silver leaf. The oval is one of the most recognisable motifs from the neo-miniature painting movement and here they encircle Qureshi’s imagery as a means to contain her reflections on violence and menace which sit alongside reflections on apathy or emptiness.
Highly decorative guns appear in this series, as Qureshi continues an ongoing investigation into the normalisation of violence exemplified in the perceived need to fortress and arm communities and the overt display of weaponary. Acknowledging a long history of embellished pistols and rifles, Qureshi attempts to undermine the menace of the object and perhaps tackle the threat that they pose, by delicately adorning them. Her guns are camouflaged within this series, contained within the adornment they cleverly expose the ease of an audience to engage with apathy.
Qureshi lectured at the National College of Arts in Lahore from 1995 to 1999 and immigrated to Australia in 2001 to take up postgraduate study. She has shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions across Asia, the United States, Europe and Australia, including in 2004 a solo exhibition at Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton. In 2005 she was included in Beyond Borders: Art of Pakistan, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, and also exhibited in the 5th Asia-Pacific Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery in 2006. More recent exhibitions include: The Shape of Time, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, 2018; The biological remains of an eighteenth century sampler, Chawkandi Art, Karachi Pakistan, 2014; Negotiating This World: Contemporary Australian Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2012; Beyond the Self at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, 2011; Realms of Intimacy: Miniaturist Practice from Pakistan, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, USA, 2011, and The way you look at me, Gallery 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney, 2011.
My work DID YOU COME HERE TO FIND HISTORY? is part of this exhibition in Vienna, opening on March 5th. Jasper Sharp has curated this show. Some of the names in the show: Rubens, Turner, Picasso, Monet, Rembrandt, Georgione, Caravaggio, Rothko, Mueck, Opie, and some more of my favourites. For details see:
It has been a while.