Raqib Shaw creates bestial energy-filled scenes with a strong erotic or even sadomasochistic subtext, richly filled with hybrid creatures – half human, half animal – whose behaviour is controlled by basal instincts. The decoratively-conceived backgrounds of scenes blend rich oriental carpet patterns and ornamental elements of Persian illuminated manuscripts from the 15th century – on which Raqib Shaw often focuses thematically, when he loosely bases his work on Persian and Greco-Roman mythological stories and fables. The animal scenes form a complex which combines the evocatively-conceived work of old masters of the Western tradition, including Hans Holbein Jr. and Hieronymus Bosch, as well as the history of visual and literary cultures of East and West.
Raqib Shaw was born in Calcutta in 1974 and grew up in Kashmir in the family of an Indian fabrics and carpet dealer, in which Hindu, Buddhist and Christian traditions were liberally interconnected. In 1998, Raqib moved to London, where he began studying Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, from where he graduated in 2002 with an MA in Fine Art.
His extraordinary style of painting, both in terms of technique and, especially, in the contemplation of the essence, possibilities and use of a the wide range of layers which it inherently possesses, is the one of the most important reason underpinning the decision to present this work in Prague.
A richly-illustrated catalogue will be published alongside the exhibition, which will include essay by David Lomas, Professor of Art History at University of Manchester, and forewords by Maria Balshaw, Director of Manchester City Galleries and Petr Nedoma, Director of Galerie Rudolfinum.