Nusra Latif Qureshi (b1973, Lahore) trained in the Mughal miniature painting tradition and has developed an extraordinary contemporary painting practice that engages with the rich, visual histories of South Asia. She is recognised as an important member of a generation of Pakistani artists who have revived and innovated the traditional art of Mughal miniature painting. Her works feature motifs from the past, ideas from the present, and techniques from both, often on small, sparingly painted surfaces. The historical symbolism of the female figure has been a central theme in her work. Her paintings reveal a complex engagement with stereotypes, and present history as a collection of overlapping fragments, rearranged to construct new narratives. Isolated female figures foreground layered imagery appropriated from colonial photography, patterns from textiles, silhouettes and botanical paintings.
Qureshi often inserts these lone females into examples of iconic South Asian miniatures – an art form known to be male dominated. By depicting figures painted in ghostly outlines she maps history’s erasures and in this way she questions recorded historical truths.
Since moving from her native Lahore to Melbourne in 2001, this subjectivity has expanded to include the trials and tribulations of being an immigrant woman in Australian society. She continues to push the conventional boundaries of her art form, creating exquisitely detailed paintings, executed with technical perfection, and masterfully employing this ancient craft to respond to contemporary culture. In recent years, her practice has expanded to include large scale installation and multimedia in which she continues to combine the tropes and language of miniature and Company painting, with nineteenth century conventions of portrait photography, to explore the politics of representation in art history.
Qureshi lectured at the National School of Art 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, Karkhana: A Contemporary Collaboration, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Connecticut, and San Francisco Asian Art Museum, USA, and Beyond Borders: Art of Pakistan, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, India, all 2005; in 2006 she was included in the 5th Asia-Pacific Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery. More recent exhibitions include An Ever Expanding Universe, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Australia, 2008; Living Traditions, National Art Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan, 2009; East West Divan: Contemporary Art from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, The 53rd Venice Biennale, Italy, also in 2009; and in 2010, The Rising Tide, Mohatta Palace Museum, Karachi, Pakistan, and Beyond The Page, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, USA. In 2011 Qureshi exhibited in Beyond the Self at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra and in Realms of Intimacy: Miniaturist Practice from Pakistan at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, USA.
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