Art that is original, that is true, that looks and describes worlds that have not been described before, that change the agenda and possibilities of art in the context of a rich and complex human cultural heritage, is indeed a rare commodity. The art of Raqib Shaw is exactly that. In a fiercely ambitious, uncompromising and poetic way, his art opens up hitherto unrevealed worlds that both pay homage to lost civilizations and dreams, and overlays them with a feast of fantasy that art puritans of today might confuse with kitsch, but which, to the open-minded and free spirited observer, represents a densely colorful orgy of new ornament.
-- From an essay by Norman Rosenthal
In Of Beasts and Super-Beasts, Indian-born Raqib Shaw created a universe inspired by the empire style typical of European -- and more specifically French -- art from the early 19th century. The anthropomorphic figures have heads like birds, crocodiles or even tigers, somewhere between gods and heroes. They hold bowls with griffon bases, pitchers with swan neck handles, and other avian-adorned pieces. These mythological man-animal characters evolve within precious and fantastical settings, fitted and chiseled like the work of a goldsmith.
The exhibition Of Beasts and Super-Beasts is currently on view at the Parisian Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Raqib Shaw's works on paper, presented in the form of an installation, superpose wonders, curios and vanitas. Each work is a line drawing repurposed with ink and paint and then enhanced with enamel, lead glass, rhinestones, and gilding.
In 1998, Raqib Shaw left his native India and Kashmir for London, where he studied and still lives today. A graduate from London's Central Saint Martins College, he has exhibited his work in numerous museums, among them, MoMa New York, ICA London, the Metropolitan Museum NY, and more.