Death, Beauty, and Justice V, 2008
Raqib Shaw (Indian, born 1974)
Mixed media on paper; 32 1/2 x 29 5/8 in. (82.6 x 75.2 cm)
Gift of the artist, 2010 (2010.146)
Death, Beauty, and Justice V depicts the death of one of the many distinctive creatures that inhabit Raqib Shaw's fantastic world. A deceptively beautiful hybrid creature, part dragon, part ostrich, restrains and stabs a bear-headed man, while the skull of an earlier victim and another sword hover above. Yet in this otherwise shocking scene of bondage and execution, the viewer is drawn to the magnificence of the bird's plumage and the mass of colorful butterflies.
Born in Calcutta and raised in Kashmir, Shaw now lives and works in London. Joining the traditions and techniques of his native Asia with cosmopolitan and eclectic sources of imagery that he mines in the museums of London, his pictures present a collision of nature and fantasy, violence and eroticism, that exposes the otherwise hidden side of hedonism.