Norman Rosenthal explains the importance and ingenuity of Raqib Shaw’s work in the Telegraph preparing viewers for the upcoming show of Shaw’s new work at White Cube–where there have already been a few seven-figure sales (see below)–but also paving the way for the Modern and Contemporary Indian art sales in London in a few week’s time:
Shaw’s art has an extraordinary quality, at the highest level of ambition, that goes against all contemporary norms. Such must have been the reaction of those looking for the first time at the work of Francis Bacon, who was working at a time when abstraction was the standard by which art was being judged by serious critics.
Shaw is able to conjure up a world in his paintings, not to mention in one of his sculptures, of cultural contradictions that defy the imagination. Colour achieves an almost blinding intensity and precision that exists in both a horrific, and beautiful universe derived from personal experience based on self-knowledge and dream psychology.
But this, too, is mixed with a profound love and understanding of the history of visual and poetic culture of both East and West. When Shaw first came to London, he was overwhelmed by certain great paintings in the National Gallery, including Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi and Bronzino’s Allegory with Venus, Cupid and Time. Florentine paintings commissioned by the Medici, each is characterised by an intensity of colour, a sense of luxury, and, in the case of Bronzino, decadence and disease that pervades all of Shaw’s work.
Holbein and Piranesi also became points of reference. Everything from Holbein’s Dance of Death to his portraits of the English court, and Piranesi’s depictions of the ruins of imperial Rome. But the extraordinary world of Moghal India, with its extravagant, bejewelled empire founded in 1526 but lasting little more than 150 years, which produced a wonderful flowering of Indian painting, is also evoked in Shaw’s art.
Bloomberg’s Scott Reyburn reports on the sales at White Cube:
White Cube confirmed yesterday that it has sold a 40-foot- wide painting by the Anglo-Indian artist Raqib Shaw. The largest piece Shaw has created to date, the panel shows “Krishna-like figures engaged in sexual combat,” said White Cube. It is one of five paintings titled “Absence of God” that went on show at the gallery’s Hoxton Square space on May 20.
A 5-foot-high fiberglass sculpture by Shaw entitled “Adam” has also found a buyer, said Honey Luard, a White Cube spokeswoman. Both works sold for undisclosed seven-figure prices to anonymous buyers, the gallery said last week.
Shaw shot to prominence in October 2007 when his 10-foot- wide work “Garden of Earthly Delights III” fetched a record 2.7 million pounds ($4.1 million) at Sotheby’s, London.
Raqib Shaw–Conjuror of Magical Worlds (Telegraph)