Raqib Shaw was born in Calcutta, India, in 1974 and raised in Kashmir, until his family relocated to New Delhi as a result of civil war in 1989. He studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, completing his MA in Fine Arts in 2002.
Shortly after graduation, at the age of 29, Shaw had his first major solo show, Garden of Earthly Delights, at Victoria Miro Gallery, London, in 2004. The body of paintings, inspired by Hieronymus Bosch, toured to New York and Miami.
Born into a family of merchants - carpet makers and shawl traders, Shaw’s ancestry and early experience of living among antiques, jewellery and exotic fabrics has shaped his practice of ornately layered paintings, sculptures and prints. Shaw's work draws on a rich seam of sources including art history, eastern and western mythology, poetry, theatre, religion, science and natural history.
He creates fantastical, unearthly scenes populated by mythical creatures, often engaging in hedonistic acts. To make these intricately, detailed landscapes Shaw mixes media, such as car enamel paint, glitter and semi-precious stones. He uses porcupine quills or needles to apply paint and every motif is outlined in embossed gold, a technique similar to ‘cloisonné’ used in early Asian pottery to decorate metalwork and ceramics.
Shaw’s work has been the subject of important solo exhibitions including Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna, Venice (2022); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2018); Whitworth, Manchester (2017); White Cube, London (2016); Rudolfinum, Prague (2013); Manchester Art Gallery (2013); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (2006); and Tate Britain, London (2006).
Recent group exhibitions include Compton Verney, Warwickshire; Zabludowicz Collection, London (2020); Drawing Biennial, Drawing Room, London (2019); Leopold Museum, Vienna; Turner Contemporary, Margate; Dhaka Art Summit, Dhaka (2018) and Woodone Museum of Art, Hiroshima (2017).
His work is held in numerous private and public collections including the Tate, London; British Museum, London; The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.
Raqib Shaw lives and works in London, England.
Raqib Shaw at the 59th Venice Biennale
Raqib Shaw: Palazzo della Memoria, curated by Sir Norman Rosenthal, presents a body of new works completed recently at the artist’s London studio, the majority of which have never been exhibited before.
In the Press: In the studio with… Raqib Shaw
Raqib Shaw introduces his studio, a former sausage factory in Peckham, South London.
Four etchings acquired by the British Museum
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, 2018, by Raqib Shaw are now housed in the permanent collection of the British Museum.
In the Press: Raqib Shaw gives us a peek at his combined home and studio
Behind the door of a South London industrial conversion, the Indian artist has created environments of wonder equal to his art.
In the Press: Interview with Raqib Shaw
"I'm trying to deal with the many masks I've been used to wearing all my life and trying to find out who I am."
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