Aga Khan Museum

Nadia Al-Issa in Art Asia Pacific:

Qureshi_rise_and_fall_346Housed within the 6.8-hectare Aga Khan Park—designed by Serbian-Lebanese landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic—are two new additions to Toronto’s cultural scene. One is the Ismaili Centre Toronto, designed by renowned Indian modernist architect Charles Correa. The other is the Aga Khan Museum, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. Under development for almost a decade, the much-awaited cultural complex, situated in Toronto’s Don Mills neighborhood, opened to the public this September. The complex is an initiative of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Nizari Ismailis, AKDN is a group of non-denominational development organizations that work in sectors as diverse as the environment, education, health, rural development, culture and architecture in the Muslim world. The Ismailis are the second largest Shia Muslim community, with 15 million followers in 25 countries within Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, North America and Australia. The community’s history spans 12 centuries and at its height included the reign of the Fatimid Caliphate (909–1171), a formidable Islamic state that was seated in Cairo.

…Connecting the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum is the centerpiece of the Aga Khan Park: inspired by the gardens at Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi, the Taj Mahal in Agra, and the Alhambra Palace in Grenada, Spain, Djurovic’s design is a contemporary take on the Islamic “Garden of Paradise.” The Aga Khan Park’s centerpiece harkens back to the Charbagh, a traditional Persian garden divided into four parts by walkways or water channels that intersect at a central fountain or pool. In Djurovic’s rendition, concrete paths separate four granite-lined reflecting pools and converge onto a massive central pool flanked by flowering serviceberry trees. Adjacent to the reflecting pools is a site-specific floor painting by contemporary Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi. Part of the museum’s inaugural show, “The Garden of Ideas: Contemporary Art from Pakistan,” the installation renders a landscape of violently splattered foliage and delicately executed flowers, which speaks to the complex process of domesticating nature and nature’s inherent unruliness.

Picture: IMRAN QURESHI, Rise and Fall, 2014

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