nusra + naeem again

In June, I wrote about Nusra and Naeem’s art, and their exhibition, at Counihan Gallery, which opened a couple of days ago. Today in The Age, they get a great write-up in the A3 arts section.

Nusra Latif Qureshi ingeniously unpicks the colonial marginalisation of the Indian miniature. Her Exotic bodies skilfully investigates imagery from both Indian and European traditions, but favouring the indigenous motifs and techniques (“musaviri”) from Pakistan.

[…]

The content is subversive. An example is Gardens of desire in which a naked woman with finely drawn features is embraced by a male figure, shown only as an orange silhouette. He wants to make love because he is already between her legs and thumbing her nipple; and I guess we don’t need more detail. Such delicate groping belongs to Pahari painting; but it’s always somehow normalised by intimacy. By effacing the male’s identity, Qureshi withdraws the requisite intimacy. It no longer seems natural but potentially monstrous.

[…]

Naaem Rana updates this post-colonial consciousness in Heavenly products. The colonists are now commercial and their artillery is advertising. The game is the naive buyer of mass-produced packaged goods and the booty is profit in another foreign market.

[…]

Upon this somewhat heartless field of branded goods and entertainment images in tight arrays are floated florid forms of Urdu script. Language is the smallest obstacle for commercial interests in penetrating nations. It is notable, however, that both the products and the script look the worse for wear by their combination. They both lose authenticity through the contact.

[…]

These artists remind us that art can have moral and intellectual potency; but they also remind us that it’s first necessary to have something relevant to say.