Saad Qureshi

Born in 1986, Bewal, Pakistan. Lives and works between Oxford and London. Qureshi received his MFA in Painting from The Slade School of Fine Art, London, in 2010.
June 8, 2021
Tell us about your practice.
I think of myself primarily as a sculptor. Its gravity, space, and physicality excite me, and I feel my ideas express themselves most fully through it. But at the same time, drawing has always been at the core of my practice, and I feel a regular compulsion to return to it with a big drawing project every few years.
My work looks at the relationship between time and memory, and the effect they have on our surroundings and landscape, whether external or internal (what I call ‘mindscapes’). I am also fascinated by stories of people’s lived experiences, and all kinds of religious stories too. Through a lot of my work, I am exploring the place of religion in our time, and how our identities are forming and reforming.
Your works often pick familiar icons or visuals, but then you deconstruct and reimagine them. Can you tell us about how you approached the motifs on your latest body of work, Tanabana?
I like to think of it more as a ‘re-imagining’ and making new. There is a literal kind of reimagination and a more metaphorical sort. In my last body of work, Something About Paradise at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, I was metaphorically re-imagining other peoples’ memories and stories of what ‘paradise’ means to them. These were verbalizations of stories, as I was processing, 
I was coming up with the visuals for them. For the Tanabana series, I collected beautiful textiles from the family library and then photographed them. I was literally breaking them down by cutting them into little strips and re-weaving them to come up with new patterns. The Tanabana series was a more physical re-imagination of the patterns that were there, and reweaving to come up with new patterns. I am now telling a new story through them. I approached this series essentially with re-imagination and retelling. 
In the larger works, there is also a re-weaving of stories in a more metaphorical sense. All the figures in the stories are wearing designs from the Tanabana series. That is the more obvious connection between the two collections. I bring together figures from different stories in a single scene. What the new story is, is for the viewers to discover and determine. 
*tanabana: also means “warp and weft” technique
For the larger works, it seems to me that you’ve taken pages from the manuscripts in your family library and brought them together for a new scene, a modern page.
One painting tells many different stories. I am re-weaving them so that there are different narratives. All these textiles, although they do have historical references, are being made now, through my hands and processed by my mind. These are all stories being told in new ways. 
These are images that I grew up with. They are very familiar and that’s why I removed the faces. Faceless figures have the fluidity to be anyone. The more ambiguous they are, the more anonymous they are. They can be anybody: a story of any place or any viewer.
What has been inspiring you lately?
I feel incredibly fortunate that I am full of inspiration and bursting with ideas. I have never felt demotivated or uninspired. I find inspiration in everything around me – from a conversation with a family member, going on a walk, or a thought that comes to mind and then sparks something further. And I’m not always sure what sparks it. These visual images start presenting themselves to me. I can’t put my finger on a particular thing, such as a movie or an artist. I have a whole bank of ideas I can go to, and pluck when necessary.
What’s next for you?
There are many exciting projects in the pipeline. I’m afraid it’s too early to talk about any yet. I will be posting updates and announcements in the coming weeks/months, so do keep an eye on my socials for news.

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