Islamabad United teams up with artist Imran Qureshi for the 'world's first cricket and art collaboration'
When we think of cricket, we don't exactly think of it in relation to art. However, PSL franchise Islamabad United is bridging the gap between these two worlds through a unique campaign with visual artist Imran Qureshi.
Under the project AANideasLAB: IQ X IU, Qureshi interacted with some Islamabad United players and conducted a visual art project over the course of several weeks. The initiative aims to "celebrate sport and art, two of the most universal languages we have today, bringing art to the Pakistani public through their love for the game of cricket". The campaign has been described as the world's first cricket and art collaboration by Islamabad United.
Islamabad United's owner Ali Naqvi expressed his excitement over how the campaign "combines two passions, cricket and art". "I had been thinking about this idea for a few years but Covid-19 delayed its execution until this year," he explained.
From the pictures, it seems like Qureshi closely interacted with Shadab Khan and Asif Ali during the campaign.
Qureshi was excited about what the collaboration brings forth. "I wanted to show why art should be combined with cricket," he said. "I also wanted the project to have depth through layering. The idea was to call the cricketers to my studio and paint alongside them. The way these cricketers play and the energy, impact and movement their game exudes, the art campaign meant to document that by taking impressions on a surface," he explained.
"This was combined with my signature style of miniature painting and the way I draw foliage. The foliage is meant to signify life, peace and harmony.
"For this, I got together with Shadab [Khan] and [Asif] Ali, and in the video they are seen using a tennis ball. Usually when we start playing cricket in our childhood, most of us use tennis balls," he said. "A lot of times that ball would roll into keechar [mud] or water, splashing all of it on our clothes and everywhere else. The way we'd bounce that ball against the pavement to get rid of the water or mud, I wanted to document the impression of that bounce and reflect the nostalgia of that time in our lives. Our cricketers play a professional game now and I wanted to take them back to that nostalgic time."
Interestingly, Qureshi isn't exactly a hardcore cricket fan, but that doesn't mean he doesn't follow it from time to time. "My knowledge of cricket and its players is slow in development but all the exciting matches that happen, like the Pakistan versus India one during the T20 World Cup, I do watch those with a lot of interest," he explained. "I like to observe the environment created by that match, the energy it creates and the way people emotionally respond to it all. These things inspire me a lot and I used these observations to create the campaign artwork as well."
The visual artist will be supporting Islamabad United in the upcoming PSL tournament. "This goes without saying," he said. "I am quite excited for this team."
Qureshi is a renowned international visual artist. He was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 2020 for his contributions in art. You've probably seen one of Qureshi's most prominent artworks without realising it is by him — the 200-foot permanent mural at the Islamabad Airport.