Raqib Shaw was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, in 1974, but spent most of his childhood in the beautiful Valley of Kashmir immersed in his family’s business of selling jewelry, textiles, and carpets. On a trip to London, he became entranced by old masters’ paintings at the National Gallery. He eventually moved to the city in 1998 to study art and has lived there ever since. 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.

This exhibition tells stories that take place within hybridized geographies—some evoke childhood memories of a Kashmiri paradise, while others show glistening cities and Boschian landscapes in flames that unnervingly project the crises and disasters facing the world today. In his works, Shaw uses a variety of paints applied with a porcupine quill to depict the precise details of objects from flowers to distant mountains, which are also outlined in embossed gold. Glitter and semiprecious stones further enhance the sublime opulence of the scenes. Shaw’s alluring visual ballads are tinged with the multiple accents of the world, envisioning a place where dichotomies of East and West are subsumed into a realm of imagination and dreams.

Raqib Shaw has exhibited at Manchester Art Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Tate Britain, and The Whitworth. This exhibition is curated by Zehra Jumabhoy, PhD, an art historian who specializes in the art of South Asia.

Organized by the Frist Art Museum and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Lead sponsor

Blevins logo

Funded in part by

Gordon CAP Gallery Fund

With additional support from

Friends of Contemporary Art logo

Supported in part by

Frist Foundation, Metro Arts, Tennessee Arts Commission, and National Endowment for the Arts logos

Exhibition gallery

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