Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi has been honoured with a Medal of Arts Award by the US State Department for 2017, making him the second Pakistani to receive this accolade.

Qureshi received the award at a ceremony hosted by Deputy US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington D.C yesterday at the State Department’s historic Benjamin Franklin Room.

Imran Qureshi at the ceremony at the State Department’s historic Benjamin Franklin Room in Washington D.C
Imran Qureshi at the ceremony at the State Department’s historic Benjamin Franklin Room in Washington D.C

The awardees for this year also include Nick Cave, Jenny Holzer, Wolf Kahn and Rachel Whiteread.

The Medal of Arts award is given to artists who have promoted cultural diplomacy through the visual arts and international cultural exchange.

Qureshi's has been exhibiting his miniature paintings internationally for almost 20 years. His work tackles themes of violence, not just that which occurs in his hometown Lahore and other parts of Pakistan, but all over the world.

Speaking about receiving the Medal of Arts Award, Imran Qureshi said, “I am honoured and proud that my country and art have been awarded – it is recognition not just for me but but for Pakistan and especially the contemporary art scene in my country."

"The reality is that the West is largely only exposed to Pakistan through what their media has showed to them about us, which is often times one sided and myopic. There is a whole other side of this beautiful country; Pakistani Contemporary art is the most exciting thing happening in Pakistan with the diversity of ideas, concepts and approaches and I appreciate greatly the recognition of this by the Medal of Arts Award."

"Further, as an artist, I have always assumed a sense of responsibility to make a significant contribution to creating harmony between different cultures and countries and as a Pakistani am proud to accept this award in the spirit of making this world a better place through art for our future generations.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Imran Qureshi is the first ever Pakistani artist to receive the Medal of Arts award. This was incorrect. Shahzia Sikander is the first Pakistani artist to receive the award. The error is regretted and has been amended.