Saad Qureshi: ‘You can’t really pick your medium. Your medium picks you’
The artist talks about his seduction by charcoal, his fear of being exposed, and his creation of mindscapes from his own and others’ memories
For his third solo show with Gazelli Art House, Saad Qureshi is stepping out from the shadows and showing two series of drawings – one made with charcoal and brick dust, the other with scorched lines on paper – which, although very physical and sculptural in their own way, move away from his usual medium of sculpture. “I think it was really brave of me to go ahead and do a solo show,” Qureshi says. “There’s no room for error, there’s nothing to hide behind.” He only recently rediscovered his love for charcoal – a medium he had set aside since the days of compulsory life drawing – and was seduced by the sound it made, as he rubbed it on plywood in his studio. “That was it: there was no looking back.”
Qureshi’s monumental landscapes – or “mindscapes”, as he prefers to call them – are hybrids of several geographical places compressed into one, often fantastical and geographically impossible. He never does any physical planning, conceiving of his imagery only in his mind’s eye, before mapping it out impulsively, using Indian ink and a towel, on top of his prepared plywood surface, coated in a paint he mixes out of brick dust. On top of this, he then “goes crazy” with the charcoal. The result is at once photographic and alien. Known, but uncanny. Qureshi explores how time and memory play tricks on the mind.
His exhibition at Gazelli Art House coincides with the launch of his first major public commission, Places For Nova, in Victoria, London, which was where he first began working with brick dust.
Qureshi shared his enthusiasm for time, memory, landscape and drawing with Studio International.
• Saad Qureshi: time | memory | landscape runs until 16 April 2017 at Gazelli Art House, London.
Interview by ANNA McNAY
Filmed by MARTIN KENNEDY