Raqib Shaw's gloriously opulent paintings suggest a fantastical world full of intricate detail, rich colour, and jewel-like surfaces, all masking the intense violent and sexual nature of its imagery. Inspired by Hieronymous Bosch's fifteenth century visionary triptych, Shaw’s series of works similarly titled ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ celebrate a society free of any moral restraint. Populated with a wealth of hybrid creatures, Shaw portrays a dizzying scene of erotic hedonism, both explosive and gruesome in its debauchery. Fusing an array of vibrantly painted flora and fauna, Shaw creates an eco-system inhabited by figures such as phallus-headed birds, bug-eyed butterfly catchers, reptilian warriors or monkeys holding parasols, anthropomorphic in their gestures and regalia.
Shaw's unique technique, where pools of enamel and metallic industrial paints are manipulated to the desired effect with a porcupine quill, meticulously enhances numerous details within the paintings, such as coral, feathers or flowers. Every motif is outlined in embossed gold, a technique similar to ‘cloisonné’ found in early Asian pottery, which is a source of inspiration to Shaw, along with Uchikake (Japanese wedding kimonos), Byobu (screens), Hokusai prints, Kashmiri shawls, medieval heraldry and Persian miniatures, carpets and jewellery.
Raqib Shaw was born in Calcutta, India in 1974 and lives and works in London. Solo exhibitions include Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2018); The Whitworth, Manchester, UK (2017); White Cube at Glyndebourne, UK (2016); Rudolfinium, Prague (2013); Manchester Art Gallery, UK (2013); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2009); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2006); and Tate Britain, London (2006). Selected group exhibitions include the Dhaka Art Summit (2018); Leopold Museum, Vienna (2018); 7th Asia Pacific Triennale, Queensland, Australia (2012); 1st Kiev Biennale (2012); 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010); 6th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2006); and Prague Biennale (2005).