Raqib Shaw: Ballads of East and West
Jun 9, 2024 - Sep 2, 2024
Ticket: $24.00*
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“It's only in person . . . that you see how simply astonishing Shaw’s technique is.” —Washington Post

In his luminous paintings, Raqib Shaw blends Eastern and Western influences to create mesmerizing works of art that merge fable, history, and autobiography.

Born in India in 1974, Shaw spent most of his childhood in the Valley of Kashmir—a beautiful yet long-disputed territory marked by turmoil. On a trip to London in 1993, he fell in love with the Old Master paintings at the National Gallery. He eventually moved to London and has lived there ever since.

Shaw’s mysterious paintings seamlessly combine references to Western art history with Asian ornamental aesthetics and philosophical traditions. Reflecting these intertwined histories, the exhibition’s title—Raqib Shaw: Ballads of East and West—is taken from the Rudyard Kipling poem “The Ballad of East and West.”

The artist paints with porcupine quills and fine needles to render the precise details of delicate flowers or distant mountains, which are outlined in embossed gold. Jewels, glitter, and semiprecious stones further enhance the opulence of the scenes, beguiling viewers through the iridescent shimmer of their surfaces, even as they sense the sadness that lurks beneath the glamour. Upon closer examination, conflict is present in almost every painting, evoking Kashmir’s turbulent history.

► Publication The illustrated exhibition catalogue is available through the MFA Shop (713.639.7360) and the Museum’s Hirsch Library (713.639.7325).
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