Raqib Shaw Unveils Planned Summer Exhibition At The Whitworth

Raqib Shaw, Self Portrait in the Studio at Peckham Raqib Shaw, Untitled. (After Steenwyck the Younger) II, 2014-15. © Raqib Shaw. Photo: White Cube,


Raqib Shaw’s exotic Kashmir inspired paintings are to be exhibited at the Whitworth in Manchester.  Sumptuous textiles, wallpaper and renaissance drawings from The Whitworth collection will create a key exhibition this summer.

‘Throughout my artistic career I have always found great inspiration in both Western and Eastern culture and art’ – Raqib Shaw

The opulent paintings of fantastical worlds will go on display at the Whitworth, part of The University of Manchester, from 24 June 2017 – Nov 2018.The exhibition will take the form of an installation, drawing on influences of renaissance and baroque imagery, combined with theatrical extravagance, nature and poetry, to echo the mythic space Shaw creates in his paintings. The exhibition will be reimagined for the South Asian context of the Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2 – 10 February 2018), which will be the artist’s first solo presentation in the region and will include objects from the Whitworth’s collection.

Co-curated by Dr Maria Balshaw, Director of the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery, Diana Campbell Betancourt, Chief Curator of Dhaka Art Summit and Artistic Director of Samdani Art Foundation, and the artist, Shaw’s paintings and sculptures will be complemented with historic textiles and drawings from the Whitworth’s internationally renowned collection referencing the aesthetic of the East. Highlights from the collection include a stunning gold and pink brocaded Kashmir shawl from the nineteenth century, a hand-knotted Persian hunting carpet (1900-1924), John Frederick Lewis’ oil painting Indoor Gossip, Cairo (1873) and a rare engraving by Italian artist Andrea Mantegna Battle of the Tritons(1470 – 1479). Japanese prints and decorative silver objects highlighting techniques of embellishments in mother-of-pearl and cloisonné will be borrowed from Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Museum collections.

Born in Calcutta, and raised in Kashmir, Raqib Shaw moved to London in 1998, where he completed his BA and MA at Central St Martins School of Art. His work is in part inspired by fifteenth-century Italian iconography and uses a unique technique where pools of enamel and metallic industrial paints are manipulated to the desired effect with a porcupine quill.The intricate detail, rich colours and vibrant jewels, mask the darker hedonistic and sexual nature of the imagery.

The exhibition forms part of New North and South, a new network of eleven arts organisations from across the North of England and South Asia, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence.

Raqib Shaw said: ‘Throughout my artistic career I have always found great inspiration in both Western and Eastern culture and art, therefore, when the opportunity to exhibit my work alongside the Whitworth’s collection of historic textiles and drawings arose, I was delighted. Furthermore, it seemed incredibly apt that the works should also be part of a cultural exchange with the Dhaka Art Summit and that the exhibition would travel to Bangladesh.’

Raqib Shaw’
Raqib Shaw’s exotic Kashmir inspired work Untitled

Dr Maria Balshaw, Director of the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery said: ‘Raqib Shaw’s magical paintings offer a highly complex, absorbing semi-autobiographical space to think through both image and issues of identity.

In this exhibition, Raqib’s insightful exploration of our historic collections has created wonderful synergies between his own work and that of the Whitworth, Manchester Museum and Manchester Art Gallery’s collections. That this first outcome of the New North and South network has been a joint curatorial project between Dhaka Art Summit and the Whitworth perfectly exemplifies the complexities of Raqib’s use of East and West iconography and our ambition for generous collaboration across the globe.’

Diana Campbell Betancourt, Chief Curator of Dhaka Art Summit and Artistic Director of Samdani Art Foundation said: ‘When we think about South Asia, often contested places like Kashmir or Tibet get lost in larger nationalist narratives – and artists and works of art largely exist in exile due to the violence and political strife existing in these places. Raqib Shaw is one of the leading artists of Kashmiri origin and his work references the rich craft techniques of the region paired with his deep interest in the history of painting. Through working with the Whitworth and the New North and South network, we are able to bring the decorative arts of Kashmir and the magnificent artworks of Raqib Shaw back from collections in the UK to share with local audiences in Dhaka in his first major presentation in South Asia.

Manchester Art Gallery presents South Asian Design from 19 May 2017 – May 2018. The exhibition will explore how the region’s traditional crafts are inspiring contemporary art, design and fashion. Alongside historic ceramics, textiles and metalwork from Manchester City Galleries’ collections, highlights include art by Adeela Suleman, fashion by Tarun Tahiliani and Manish Arora and product design by Cobalt Studios, Rubberband and Tiipoi. The gallery has also commissioned Halima Cassell to create a stunning new sculpture hand carved in terracotta, South Asia’s most iconic ceramic ware.

The New North and South network celebrates shared heritage across continents and aims to develop artistic talent through a three-year programme of co-commissions, exhibitions and intellectual exchange. The network consists of Manchester Art Gallery, the Whitworth, Manchester Museum, Liverpool Biennial, The Tetley in Leeds and Colombo Biennale (Sri Lanka), Dhaka Art Summit (Bangladesh), Karachi and Lahore Biennales (Pakistan), Kochi-Muziris Biennale (India) and the British Council. It aims to connect with diverse audiences on both continents and showcase the best of contemporary art from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the UK and also explore unequal and contested histories of empire and the industrial revolution.

Top Photo Detail  Raqib Shaw, Self Portrait in the Studio at Peckham Raqib Shaw, Untitled. (After Steenwyck the Younger) II, 2014-15. © Raqib Shaw. Photo: White Cube, Ben Westoby

Raqib Shaw The Whitworth Exhibition dates: 24 June 2017 – November 2018

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