Image: Raqib Shaw: Ballads of East and West
Raqib Shaw, Ode to the Country without a Post Office, 2019-20. Acrylic liner and enamel on Birch wood, 80 x 85 cm © Raqib Shaw. Private Collection. Photo © Raqib Shaw
Museum Exhibition

Raqib Shaw: Ballads of East and West Solo exhibition at the Gardner Museum, Boston, MA, USA

15 February—12 May 2024
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA, USA

Raqib Shaw: Ballads of East and West at the Gardner Museum, co-curated with Dr. Zehra Jumabhoy, is an invitation to see the world as Raqib Shaw sees it: “An amalgamation, a hybrid, a cocktail.” The exhibition unfolds across three locations, from a newly commissioned work on the Anne H. Fitzpatrick façade, to a deep dive on Shaw’s process in the Palace's Fenway Gallery to twelve-years worth of paintings in the Hostetter Gallery in the New Building in which, like Shaw’s view of the world: “The more you look, the more it will reward you.”

Raqib Shaw is an internationally renowned painter, whose work echoes across centuries and continents articulating a dialogue between East and West. Based in London, the artist lived most of his childhood in the Indian city of Srinagar, a ‘Heaven on Earth’ encircled by Himalayan mountains, lakes, and magical gardens. The Kashmir he knew as a child no longer exists, marred by political insurgencies. For Shaw, Kashmir represents a trampled Eden—a paradise lost—and references to the beauty and trauma of his childhood abound in his work.

Shaw’s paintings are flamboyant, fantastical, and extremely labor-intensive. They are puzzles that always include certain key ingredients: self-portraiture, landscapes in peril, references to historic painting, or moments from his own life. Shaw frequently depicts himself as satyr, a joker, a saint, a philosopher, or a blue-skinned divinity clad in sumptuous robes. The sensuous, glossy intensity of the jewel-like painting surface is rendered in infinite colors and shades with a painstaking technique—enamel paint, applied with porcupine quills to birch wood panels.

Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
Atmospheric image Atmospheric image