Press release

Contemporary Artist Raqib Shaw's Fantastical Tableaux On View at Metropolitan Museum November 4

Exhibition Dates: November 4, 2008–March 8, 2009
Exhibition Location: Lila Acheson Wallace Wing, The Gioconda and Joseph King Gallery
Press Viewing: Monday, November 10, 10 a.m.–noon

Never-before-seen paintings and works on paper by London-based artist Raqib Shaw (Indian, born 1974) will be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from November 4, 2008, through March 8, 2009.

The artist's first solo museum exhibition in New York, Raqib Shaw at the Metis in part a response to the Holbein in England exhibition held in 2006–2007 at Tate Britain. Shaw—attracted to the morality tales and artistic conventions of medieval and Renaissance art—draws on the oeuvre of German artist Hans Holbein the Younger (ca. 1497–1543), who was the first Western painter Shaw encountered when he moved to London. In one of the works that will be on view at the Met, Anne of Chrysanthemums, Shaw reverently copies Holbein's portrait of Henry VIII's wife Anne of Cleves but embellishes it with dramatic explosions and jewel-like flora and fauna. As a complement to these works, a number of prints by Hans Holbein the Younger from the Museum's collection will be included in the exhibition.

Also on view is a second, separate group of works from a new series entitled Absence of God, which marks a turning point in the artist's practice. Here, Shaw's fantastic creatures are juxtaposed with architectural renderings that serve as a backdrop for a world falling to ruin. In Shaw's words, Holbein has passed the baton to Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–78), the Italian artist renowned for his depictions of the historic remains of ancient Rome as well as imaginary architectural spaces.

In order to create his extraordinarily detailed, vividly colored tableaux, Shaw meticulously manipulates pools of enamel and metallic industrial paints with slender porcupine quills. Magnificent flowers, butterflies, and coral embellished with glitter and gemstones often punctuate his paintings, giving the works a sense of opulence and fantasy. Inspired by an eclectic range of sources, Shaw's works present the collision of nature and fantasy, violence and eroticism.

Raqib Shaw was born in Calcutta, grew up in Kashmir, and currently works and resides in London. He completed both his BFA and MFA at Central Saint Martin's School of Art and Design in London. His work has been exhibited at several international institutions, including Tate Britain, London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Institute of Contemporary Art, London; the Sixth Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Deitch Projects, New York.

Raqib Shaw at the Met is organized by Gary Tinterow, Engelhard Curator in Charge, with the assistance of Nykia Omphroy, Associate for Administration, both of the Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art. It is the fifth in the Met's series of solo exhibitions of midcareer contemporary artists, which has featured Tony Oursler (2005), Kara Walker (2006), Neo Rauch (2007), and Tara Donovan (2008).

The exhibition will also be featured on the Museum's website,


January 16, 2009

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