Thursday, February 5, 2009

Raqib Shaw

During a recent trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was walking through the contemporary art mezzanine, a place I've been to many times before, when I stumbled upon a ménegerie of horrifically beautiful works of art. No picture I place in my blog can ever do justice to the glitzy sparkles and grotesque imagery of Raqib Shaw's pieces. Each painting is made up of who knows how many thousands of small gems, combined with a painted picture. The images themselves draw upon the works of artists such as Hans Holbein, Hieronymus Bosch and Giovanni Piranesi, and are also informed by Shaw's home country of India and the characters seen in ancient folklore.

I found my own modern connection with his work, in their absolute resemblance to American traditional tattoos. I couldn't help but be mesmerized by the sparkles that reflect every beam of light and then repulsed by the actual scene of brains spilling out of someone's head. The bright colors and delicate painting style seem to be the antithesis of the subject matter, yet it is this exact juxtaposition that makes each piece impossible to walk away from. It has been a while since I have been completely overcome by an artist's ability to enrapture the viewer, and I plan on returning often to let myself get lost in the jewelled fantasies of Raqib Shaw.

Raqib Shaw at the Met

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