Raqib Shaw’s Essay Example
Raqib Shaw’s Essay Example

Raqib Shaw’s Essay Example

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  • Pages: 4 (939 words)
  • Published: August 28, 2017
  • Type: Art Analysis
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Raqib Shaw's paintings are stunningly beautiful, with a natural, exquisite quality that is impossible to dislike. He incorporates an array of textural materials into his work, making it exciting and distinct. I am drawn to the mythical, mystical, and colorful style of his art.

Observing any art that tells stories is truly fascinating. Personally, I appreciate this type of art as it reminds me of ornate objects like intricately carved frames, antiques and ornaments that amaze with their intricate details. Shaw was born in Calcutta on the outskirts of India to a family of carpenters who raised him as a Muslim. His upbringing was heavily influenced by religion from birth despite attending a Christian school and being educated by a Hindu teacher which may have caused conflicting thoughts as a child. It is evident that Shaw's Indian roots


played an immense part in his later work with delicate elements such as rhinestones, glitter and color all heavily influenced by Indian tradition.

During his school years, he showed a liking for English Literature and had favorite authors such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, the Brontes, Wilde, and Hardy. He joined the Central St Martin's School of Art in London at 24 years old in 1988 to pursue both BA and MA degrees. However, upon arrival, he was treated like a 'noble savage.' While in London, Shaw grew interested in Renaissance paintings and found some captivating works at the National Gallery. Among these were Botticelli's Adoration of the Magi and Bronzino's 'Allegory with Venus, Cupid and Time.' This fascination motivated him to pursue painting instead of joining his family business for financial stability. Upon graduation, he sold out his

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initial solo exhibition comprising eighteen drawings and five paintings. At the New York Armoury Show, all pieces exhibited by him were purchased within one day.

Shaw's success came from his distinct artistic style that showcased intricate detail, vivid color, and a polished surface that concealed the violent and sexual undertones of his imagery. His approach resulted in breathtaking paintings that captivated audiences. Initially, he used oil paints but found that he was creating pieces that resembled commonplace paintings. As a result, he turned to studying industrial materials, recognizing that he couldn't and didn't want to compete with the legacy of painting history. The process he has developed and utilizes currently is delicate; one misstep could require him to restart the entire painting.

Shaw spends months completing his paintings, starting with an intricate tracing paper drawing that gets transferred to a wooden board. The traced outlines are then covered with a gold paint commonly used in stained glass windows, which raises a barrier. From there, enamel and metallic paints are poured into the barrier and manipulated with a porcupine quill to create the fine details on elements like feathers, coral, and flowers. Because the paint dries quickly, he works on only small areas of the painting at once. He builds up the painting section by section before embellishing it with Swarovski crystals. Shaw often works late into the night, keeping his music and dogs for company while rarely leaving his studio.

Upon his arrival in London, Shaw was struck by the art in the National Gallery, which included pieces by Hieronymus Bosch and Holbein. His fascination with Bosch's work led him to recreate The Garden of Earthly

Delight in his own style, portraying a world without any moral limits. This version was named Garden of Earthly Delights III and was sold for $5.

Shaw is the second Indian artist to gain recognition in Western Society, and recently sold an artwork for a record-breaking 49 million at auction, making it the most expensive artwork by an Indian artist. His studio, located in Islington on the outskirts of London, was previously a nursery and is now divided into multiple rooms using muslin drapes. The studio is decorated with mirrors, ornaments, 5000 artificial butterflies, and 8000 artificial birds. The original school canteen has been replaced with a collection of wines and champagne, as well as antique Victorian china used to serve exotic teas such as 'kahwa' from his birthplace. Incense, candles and fresh flowers add to the vibrancy of the studio, changing with the seasons and providing an array of colors. The studio is reminiscent of a Himalayan forest.

Despite the eye-catching decorations, the crucial ventilation system remains necessary to eliminate fumes from the hazardous materials, including automotive paint and strong adhesives utilized in Shaw's artful creations. Although admired for their appealing aesthetics, Shaw infuses personal significance into his pieces which demand interpretation. In his pursuit of perfection, Shaw acknowledges that flaws are inevitable as personal perspectives distort our perceptions of our creations. While unified by a stylistic approach, Shaw's oeuvre ranges from historical depictions to autobiographical compositions like his painting of Anne of Cleves, which details the story of Henry VIII claiming her as his fourth wife after merely seeing her portrait.

Although her appearance differed from her photo taken in France, Henry VIII was compelled

to marry her but ultimately divorced her. Shaw's artwork depicts her as a multi-faced monstrous being. While I admire the visual appeal of his art, it also resonates with my personal experiences. Through his paintings, Shaw utilizes his subconscious to narrate his life story, even if its meaning is not immediately apparent to viewers. Nevertheless, the public can still appreciate the aesthetic value of his work.

While the artist's paintings may not have an immediately apparent meaning, he still understands the message he intended to communicate. Furthermore, his distinct painting style has been perfected and is visually appealing despite the darker themes it portrays.

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