Co-curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt, Chief Curator of Dhaka Art Summit and Artistic Director of Samdani Art Foundation, Dr Maria Balshaw, Director of Tate, and the artist, as part of the New North and South, a network of eleven arts organisations from across South Asia and the North of England in a three-year programme of co-commissions, exhibitions and intellectual exchanges
24 June - 19 November 2017 | whitworth art gallery, Manchester
2-10 February 2018 | Dhaka Art Summit
Raqib Shaw’s paintings present a landscape of the imagination, bringing together a remembered Kashmir, his extraordinary studio in Peckham, London, and a passionate engagement with the history of Eastern and Western art. Born in Calcutta to Muslim parents, raised in Kashmir (a historically Buddhist territory), and educated by Hindu teachers at a Christian school, celebration of plurality and difference is core to the artist’s work and to the Kashmiri culture that fundamentalism strives to quash.
Shaw’s meticulous attention to detail creates a surface of theatrical extravagance that draws on Renaissance architecture, Japanese prints and Hindu iconography. This complex imaginary space is populated by extreme re-workings of myths, gods, animals and humans as fantasies of excess through which the artist reflects back on his own status as a post-colonial subject and plays back ‘the oriental’ to both West and East for very different political, sexual and emotional purposes.
Shaw's solo presentation at the Dhaka Art Summit was the artist’s first major presentation in South Asia. The newly commissioned wallpaper spoke of Shaw’s love of fairy tales and his use of motifs of tumbling coins and mythic creatures, creating an intense domestic disruption in the public spaces of the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, where close inspection revealed the lush beauty of the decorative as turbulent and disturbing. Together with his paintings, the wallpaper formed the backdrop to the display of historic collections, drawn from the artist's own collection, the Whitworth, Bangladesh National Museum, the Collection of Aysha and Shahab Sattar, and the Samdani Art Foundation collection. Totemic objects such as a 19th century Kashmir shawl, Japanese woodblock prints, a rose water sprinkler, and cloisonné charger, mapped Shaw's cultural references and helped to shape a new context in which the audience could read his work.
Generously supported by White Cube and the Arts Council England. Courtesy of Raqib Shaw, White Cube, Manchester Art Gallery, the Whitworth, the University of Manchester and the Bangladesh National Museum.