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Raqib Shaw

Lives and works in London
B. 1974

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).

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In the Studio

Raqib Shaw

From his south London studio in 2013, Raqib details his creative practice, explaining how he creates his intricately detailed paintings.


Andrea Schlieker and Raqib Shaw at Glyndebourne

Raqib Shaw reflects on his exhibition at Glyndebourne with Andrea Schlieker. The artist talks about how the work evolved out of his interest in opera and the landscape and tradition of the festival itself.

In Focus

Raqib Shaw on 'Narcissus'

Raqib discusses his installation Narcissus, which was included in his exhibition, 'Paradise Lost' at White Cube Mason's Yard in 2011.

In Focus

Sir Norman Rosenthal on Raqib Shaw’s ‘The Retrospective 2002 – 2022’

Norman Rosenthal, curator of ‘Raqib Shaw: Palazzo della Memoria’ at Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art, Venice, discusses the compositional precedents of Shaw’s painting.

In Focus

'Raqib Shaw: Palazzo della Memoria' at Ca'Pesaro, Venice

‘Raqib Shaw: Palazzo della Memoria’ at Ca'Pesaro (2022) was curated by Sir Norman Rosenthal. Many of the works on show drew from Italian and Venetian pictorial traditions with inspiration from Tintoretto, Giorgione, Pannini and others.

In Focus

Raqib Shaw on his Japanese influences

Raqib Shaw talks to curator and writer Andreas Schlieker about the various Japanese influences on his life and work. The conversation took place in 2018.

In the Studio

Raqib Shaw

From his south London studio in 2013, Raqib details his creative practice, explaining how he creates his intricately detailed paintings.

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