Location: Aicon Gallery, New York
Dates: 22 June - 29 July 2023
Following on from our inaugural presentation of Saad Qureshi’s Tanabanas at the gallery in 2021, Aicon is delighted to announce Spaces & Places, an exhibition of new work in this rich and expanding series of paper tapestries.
Grounded in the craft and storytelling practices that surrounded the artist as a child embedded in a family tradition of textile and needlework, the Tanabanas began as a creative dialogue during lockdown, using the language of weaving to draw together Qureshi’s practice as an artist with that of generations of makers before him.
As the Tanabanas have evolved, and overseen by the artist’s mother whose expertise in weaving informs the making of every work, so has the intimacy between them. Already close, these three years have brought new dimensions of understanding, as her description of the meditative aspects of weaving has become a shared and lived reality. Weaving each Tanabana, a long and repetitive action of still concentration, opens up expanses of contemplation that have a quality of prayer.
In Spaces & Places, the content of the tapestries has taken Qureshi to the Tree of Life and its mediation between earthly and heavenly realms. His Constellations evoke epiphanies, those moments of vision where seemingly disparate elements are suspended in a moment of total clarity and meaning. Perhaps unexpectedly, they also call on another of the artist’s enduring passions, using AI to bring the worlds of technology, science fiction and mythology together. The equine figures coursing through the infinite space of the works are the result of a series of instructions to DALL-E, describing the characteristics of the Buraq, the mysterious horse-like creature that carried Mohammed at the speed of light from Mecca to Jerusalem. As part of an iterative process, the artist described to the AI what this creature would look like, conjuring up a new mythological hybrid beast, in much the same way that ancient oral traditions used language and storytelling to create stories and creatures “in the mind’s eye.” For other Tanabanas, Qureshi has drawn on photographs from his travels and his fascination with sacral architecture, weaving arches and stained-glass windows from churches, cathedrals and mosques together into new dimensions of divine space.