Raqib Shaw

Raqib Shaw

Indian
b. 1974
/

Overview

'My work exists on two levels, in the relationship between the background and the foreground and how they talk to each other. It's also a satire on human society and the human condition in general.'

Born in Calcutta, India, and raised in Kashmir, Raqib Shaw comes from a family of merchants and his early experience of living among antiques, jewellery and exotic fabrics and carpets has informed his highly intricate and brightly coloured paintings. He creates opulent visions of unearthly realms populated by cavorting monkey kings, leather-strapped centaurs and fearsome tiger-headed and zebra-mounted warriors. The world he portrays is beautiful, terrifying, debauched, luxurious and steeped in mythology, with a thrilling synergy between the fantastical imagery and the delicacy of his technique.

Shaw's paintings on birch panels and paper, and his sculptures in bronze, often take inspiration from eastern and western mythology, as well as masterpieces from art history. Using these sources to construct a compositional or narrative framework, he adds elements from his distinctive visual lexicon, using a range of unusual media – including rhinestones, glitter and enamel. He paints figures, carpets, costumes and mythical landscapes with exquisite skill, using a painstaking method that recalls the cloisonné technique used since ancient times to decorate metalwork and ceramics.

Born in Calcutta, India, and raised in Kashmir, Raqib Shaw comes from a family of merchants and his early experience of living among antiques, jewellery and exotic fabrics and carpets has informed his highly intricate and brightly coloured paintings. He creates opulent visions of unearthly realms populated by cavorting monkey kings, leather-strapped centaurs and fearsome tiger-headed and zebra-mounted warriors. The world he portrays is beautiful, terrifying, debauched, luxurious and steeped in mythology, with a thrilling synergy between the fantastical imagery and the delicacy of his technique.

Shaw's paintings on birch panels and paper, and his sculptures in bronze, often take inspiration from eastern and western mythology, as well as masterpieces from art history. Using these sources to construct a compositional or narrative framework, he adds elements from his distinctive visual lexicon, using a range of unusual media – including rhinestones, glitter and enamel. He paints figures, carpets, costumes and mythical landscapes with exquisite skill, using a painstaking method that recalls the cloisonné technique used since ancient times to decorate metalwork and ceramics.

Shaw himself often features in his paintings but is typically distinct from the surrounding action. He is usually depicted sitting on the floor or a bed, gazing into pools of water, mirrors or at maps, like a poet meditating on the sickness of the world or an artist struck by the potency of the visions in his mind. In one example, Self-portrait in the Study at Peckham (A Reverie after Antonello da Messina’s Saint Jerome) (2014), he reinterprets a work by the fifteenth-century artist as a crazed fantasy replete with demonic skeletons, ghouls, technicolour reptilian monkeys, a glistening full moon and a central figure – a blue-faced portrayal of Shaw in a floral robe – with his head thrown back, apparently cackling. One of the fascinations of his work is whether his seductive, mystical worlds are to be basked in or rejected.

Shaw lives and works in his Peckham studio in south London, a city he first visited in 1992 and where he enrolled at Central St Martins in 1998, completing his MA in 2002. His work has been the subject of important solo exhibitions since shortly after his graduation, including the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2018); Whitworth, Manchester (2017); Rudolfinium, Prague (2013); Manchester Art Gallery (2013); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (2006); and Tate Britain, London (2006).

Videos

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From the Studio Raqib Shaw

From the Studio

Raqib Shaw
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Raqib Shaw New Sculptures and Paintings

Raqib Shaw

New Sculptures and Paintings
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Raqib Shaw Of Beasts and Super-Beasts

Raqib Shaw

Of Beasts and Super-Beasts
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Group Exhibition Eurasia. A View on Painting

Group Exhibition

Eurasia. A View on Painting

Publications

Raqib Shaw New Sculptures and Paintings

Raqib Shaw

New Sculptures and Paintings
2015
Raqib Shaw: New Sculptures and Paintings
€ 30.00
Raqib Shaw Of Beasts and Super - Beasts

Raqib Shaw

Of Beasts and Super - Beasts
2012
Raqib Shaw: Of Beasts and Super - Beasts
€ 40.00
Installation view of Yan Pei-Ming's Against the Light at Thaddaeus Ropac Salzburg Villa Kast Installation view of Yan Pei-Ming's Against the Light at Thaddaeus Ropac Salzburg Villa Kast
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