I was at the Met yesterday searching for something to sketch (sketches coming soon), wandered into a new artists exhibit and found the explosion of color, enamel, kitsch, Bosch, light and conflict that is the work of Raqib Shaw.
Barely 33 years of age, Raqib is undoubtedly the latest sensation in Indian art. Reviewing his first New York show two and half years ago, the New York Times critic, Holland Cotter, wrote: “Labor-intensive and intensely active, Raqib Shaw’s paintings look like X-rated, subaquatic hybrids of Hieronymus Bosch, Victorian fairy painting, Persian miniatures and Bollywood films of the Ramayana. Mr. Shaw was born in Calcutta, grew up in Kashmir and now lives in London. Kashmir, with its fantastically florid beauty, is a place where cultures meet. It is said to be home to Hindu divinities. Mughal emperors spent summers there; so did British colonialists. Mr. Shaw saw evidence of all of this as a teenager.”
It is a miracle that out of the carnage in Kashmir has come such beauty. Islam, Hinduism and the West are transformed in Raqib’s art. Cotter wrote:” He went to art school in London and has lived there since, so he isn’t an ”Indian” artist, though there are elements associated with Indian art in his work. Human-shaped figures have animal heads, like Hindu gods. Nature is an all-enveloping, erotic force. In Mr. Shaw’s paintings beasts and humans copulate; phalluses crop up everywhere; ejaculation produces a constellation of butterflies.”
Wild stuff, beautiful technique. If you happen to be at the Met, take a look!