Raqib Shaw’s gloriously opulent paintings depict a fantastical world, full of intricate detail, rich colour, and bejewelled surfaces masking the intensely violent and sexual nature of this imagery.
Shaw has devised a unique method for creating his works, where enamel and industrial, metallic paints are manipulated with a porcupine quill to fashion sharp details and rich surface textures of rocks, coral, foliage, feathers and flowers. Every motif is outlined in embossed gold, a technique similar to cloisonné used in early Asian pottery, a source of inspiration to the artist along with Uchikake (Japanese wedding kimonos), Byobu (Japanese screens), the prints of Hokusai, Kashmiri shawls, medieval heraldry and Persian miniatures, carpets and jewellery.
In Shaw’s series of ‘Self Portraits’ (2016), the most autobiographical works to date, Shaw borrows compositions from 15th, 16th and 17th century Old Master paintings, including works by Girolamo Mocetto, Ludovico Mazzolino, Antonello da Messina, Carlo Crivelli, Marcello Venusti, Jan Gossaert and Hendrick van Steenwyck the Younger. Rendering their classical architecture with exacting detail, Shaw transforms the religious scenes of the originals by bringing in elements of his Peckham studio, the landscape of his childhood home in Kashmir, Hindu iconography and Japanese architecture.
Raqib Shaw was born in Calcutta, India in 1974 and lives and works in London. Solo exhibitions include Ca’ Pesaro, Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna, Venice (2022); Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK (2020); 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 Drawing Room Biennale (2021); Grayson’s Art Club, Manchester Art Gallery (2020); 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).