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The Way I Remember Them was chosen as the title of this exhibition – the first North American retrospective of the artist’s paintings – to reflect the multi-layered and iconoclastic nature of her work. The title asserts that the act of “remembrance” can be liberated to serve a personal mission and is also a humble acknowledgment that historical memory is always subjective. This idea forms an important basis for Qureshi’s paintings, which explore the mechanisms by which political and historical images purport to present objective truth or collective experience.

Qureshi culls from the history of her medium as well as its methods. She trained for years with masters in both Pakistan and India learning to make paper, brushes, and pigments according to centuries-old techniques, and she has internalized a repertoire of motifs and compositional formulae from her study of more than four centuries of masterpieces.

Qureshi’s paintings do not correct historical “truth” or rewrite the past. Instead, they challenge our basic conviction that “seeing is believing” by pulling apart the individual elements of historical images to expose the patterns that activate and authorize them. By extracting and repeatedly reconfiguring the elements of Mughal, Rajput, and British images, she deconstructs the coded visual systems that have legitimized rulers and articulated hierarchies of authority for centuries.

Qureshi also draws from the repertoire of royal emblems meticulously detailed in Mughal and Pahari paintings. . . The jeweled dagger most perfectly embodies the capacity of beauty to disguise violence, and it suggests the role of both seduction and threat in conferring power.

Excerpts from catalogue essay,
Anna Sloan, Guest Curator and Visiting Assistant
Professor, Smith College Department of Art