Raqib Shaw's gloriously opulent paintings suggest a fantastical world full of intricate detail, rich colour, and jewel-like surfaces, all masking the intense violent and sexual nature of its imagery. Inspired by Hieronymous Bosch's fifteenth century visionary triptych, Shaw’s series of works similarly titled ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ celebrate a society free of any moral restraint. Populated with a wealth of hybrid creatures, Shaw portrays a dizzying scene of erotic hedonism, both explosive and gruesome in its debauchery. Fusing an array of vibrantly painted flora and fauna, Shaw creates an eco-system inhabited by figures such as phallus-headed birds, bug-eyed butterfly catchers, reptilian warriors or monkeys holding parasols, anthropomorphic in their gestures and regalia.
Shaw's unique technique, where pools of enamel and metallic industrial paints are manipulated to the desired effect with a porcupine quill, meticulously enhances numerous details within the paintings, such as coral, feathers or flowers. Every motif is outlined in embossed gold, a technique similar to ‘cloisonné’ found in early Asian pottery, which is a source of inspiration to Shaw, along with Uchikake (Japanese wedding kimonos), Byobu (screens), Hokusai prints, Kashmiri shawls, medieval heraldry and Persian miniatures, carpets and jewellery.
Born in Calcutta, and raised in Kashmir, Raqib Shaw moved to London in 1998, where he completed his BA and MA at Central St Martins School of Art. Shaw has exhibited internationally, most notably in ‘Without Boundary’, MoMA New York (2006), ‘Around the world in Eighty Days’, ICA London (2006), the ‘6th Gwangju Biennale’, South Korea (2006), the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010) and the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2012). Major solo exhibitions include Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2006), ‘Art Now’, Tate Britain (2006), The Metropolitan Museum, New York (2008), Kunsthalle Wien (2009), Manchester Art Gallery (2013) which toured to Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague (2013).