Tuesday, December 25, 2018




 “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.”…Raqib Shaw 

 Raqib Shaw (born in 1974) is a new sensation in the world of Modern Art. Raqib Shaw is a Kashmiri artist who came to London in 1993 where he has since lived and worked. His work is opulent and intricate. 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. As a young man, Shaw became familiar with the aesthetic production of the region as he worked for his family enterprise selling jewelry, antiques, textiles, and carpets .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); Rudolfinum, 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). His bronze sculptures have created a buzz in the world of art. I saw his work. It is flora, fauna, bright colours, human images( that have partly animal features), geometrical combinations, exquisite pillars, decorated halls, dreamscapes and whatnot. He has wonderfully combined Eastern and Western influences. By Eastern, I mean entire Asian. He uses 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. He is inspired by crafts like silver-smithing, tapestry work, and jewellery making. In his work, carpet designs are mixed with industrial materials and Japanese techniques and all are brought to canvas. The world has noticed his arrival. His work commands a substantial price in Europe and the US. Throughout his career, Shaw has created images of magic and mystery, in which references to Western art history are seamlessly combined with ornamental elements derived from the Japanese prints and kimonos, Persian miniatures, and Indian textiles that he vividly remembers from his youth.

 There is hardly any museum in the world where his art has not been exhibited. Shaw has had solo exhibitions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, MOMA ( New York ), The National Portrait Gallery ( London ), Frist Museum, Nashville ( USA ), National Galleries ( Scotland ), Galerie Rudolfinium ( Prague ), Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (2006), Tate Britain, London (2006), Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna, Venice and also at many prominent art galleries and museums the world over.

 About Shaw’s art, Urvi Kothari writes this:-

 “Shaw’s enamelled art and miniature detailing allures one towards delayering these mystical intricacies and eventually finds oneself walking into sheer magnificence, what I would call the magnum opus or the ultimate grand finale of this exhibition. Shaw’s art is a meeting point wherein the East meets the West. There is a diasporic sense of identity, time and space that is highlighted across certain curated elements in his paintings. Each piece - quite often monumental in scale - holds a unique aesthetic, an imaginative aura and a subtle hint of connected personal history.”

  Remembering  Kashmir of his childhood and its rich culture, Raqib Shaw says this:-

 “In Kashmir, the pace of life was very slow. I would spend my time reading second-hand copies of the English classics and admiring the seasons. My earliest memory of Kashmir is that of colour kinds of flowers, totally uncoordinated. I used to live in an imaginary world and had invisible friends-most of the gods and goddesses from Hindu mythology. My private tutors were Hindu Pandits and they would explain how the Himalayas were the home of Shiva and how every name of a mountain range, lake, glacier and village in Kashmir was named after a mythological figure or event. There were so many stories that would conjure up fantastic visions. I always want to think of Kashmir as the birthplace of Shaivism, the land of the Sufis, with the unique language spoken mainly in metaphor, where the people are inseparable from nature and the incredible beauty that surrounds them, a culture deeply steeped in animism where humans lived in harmony with nature. Sadly, now it is different from my romanticised vision based on histories of the past. I grew up in Srinagar in a Muslim family and went to a Christian school where we would say the Lord’s Prayer every day . . . an elderly retired professor taught me all about Kashmiri Shaivism . . . It was good.”

 Raqib Shaw paints with enamels, using a needle-sharp porcupine quill. Breathtaking in their intricacy with flamboyant colours, his paintings are the product of months of intense work. His bronze sculptures have created a buzz in the world of art. Raqib Shaw's work has been offered at auction multiple times, with variable prices depending on the size and medium of the artwork. Since 2005 the record price for this artist at auction is 5,508,928 USD for Garden of Earthly Delights III, sold at Sotheby's London in 2007. With that price, he has surpassed all his senior Indian artists including S H Raza. Shaw draws on a wide range of sources including art history, mythology, poetry, theatre, religion, science and natural history. Some important paintings of Raqib Shaw can be listed as under:-


(1)   Fall Of The Jade Kingdom II - Paradise Lost II, 2014… (oil, acrylic, glitter, enamel and rhinestones on birchwood)

(2)   Puck's Predicament after the Rains from Midsummer Night's Dream2017-2018 (acrylic, enamel, watercolour and rhinestones on paper laid on board) 

(3) Reflections on the Country Without a Post Office 2020 …(scorched earth acrylic and enamel on aluminium)

(4)   Napoleon I - Of Beasts and Super Beasts 2012  …(acrylic, enamel and rhinestones on canvas )

(5) Self-portrait in the Study at Peckham (A Reverie after Antonello da Messina’s Saint Jerome) …2014 ( acrylic, glitter, enamel and rhinestones on birchwood)

(6) La Tempesta (after Giorgione) (detail), 2019–21…(acrylic liner and enamel on birchwood)

(7) Kashmir Danae (After Gossaert), 2017… (acrylic liner, enamel and rhinestones on birchwood)

(8) Monkey King Boudoir II 2012…( graphite , enamel ,glitter ,acrylic and rhinestones on paper )

(9) Allegory of Memories through Monozukuri

(10) Spring from The Four Seasons

(11) From Narcissus to Icarus (After Déjeuner sur l’herbe)

(12) Ode to the Valley of Wonderment

(13) Summer Solitude (I and II)

(14) Midsummer Night's Dream..,.2017 (Etching with hand-colouring in watercolour, on Fine Art paper, with full margins)

(15)  Last Rights of the Artist’s Ego at Shankryacharya Temple (after Ludovico Mazzolino)… 2015-16

(16) The Departure (After Tintoretto) (detail)…2021–22. (Acrylic liner and enamel on aluminum)

.About Raqib Shaw’s art, Sharmistha Ray (New York-based artist, art critic and writer) writes this:- 

 There's no doubt that Raqib Shaw has carved out a singular niche for himself in the treacherous terrains of the global art world that can sometimes swallow talent as fast as it discovers it. With a slew of museum exhibitions already under his belt and more on the way, the bluest of blue-chip galleries backing him, and adoring collectors who swear by his work, Shaw is getting the kind of endorsement he needs to be a long-term player in the art world.”

 His exhibits at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, titled The Milk of Dreams ( April 23-November 27, 2022), at the Giardini and the Arsenale, Venice had large crowds visiting to see his work. In May 2020, Shaw was featured in the third episode of the first series of Grayson's Art Club, talking in his studio about his art. Grayson's Art Club is a Channel 4 television documentary series hosted by artist Grayson Perry and his wife Philippa Perry.

 Shaw’s  parents were in the business of carpets, handicrafts and jewellery. Born in Kolkata, Raqib had his upbringing and education in Kashmir. The family had to shift to Delhi post-1990 due to armed militancy.  Raqib has done post-graduation in Art from London. And he says:-

  " Art is my religion. I am a part of humanity, not any sect and group.”

  I knew Shaw carpets, Shaw Brothers, Shaw Sons and Shaw Traders. They were  educated and wealthy exporters of carpets, handicrafts, curios, rugs, Pashmina, Kani and Shahtoos shawls in the Kashmir valley. One family from this clan had his business establishment in Nepal as well and was close to the Ranas ( old rulers) of Nepal. Is he from this Shaw clan? I don't know. But I know for certain that RaibShaw is going to touch the sky with his creativity and unique style.

  (Avtar Mota)

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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

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