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Monumental exhibition spans all three of Pace's 25th Street galleries in Chelsea
Arrival of the Ram King - PARADISE LOST II, 2011-2013. Oil, acrylic, enamel, glitter and rhinestones on Birch wood, 9' x 9' (274.3 cm x 274.3 cm), two panels, overall installed. © Raqib Shaw, courtesy Pace Gallery.

NEW YORK, NY.- Pace Gallery presents Paradise Lost, a three-venue exhibition of London-based Kashmiri artist Raqib Shaw. This is his first public presentation in New York since the 2008 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Opulent scenes of beastly anthropomorphic figures amidst fantastical worlds of idyllic skies and classical ruins fill Shaw’s first exhibition at three venues at Pace.

Included in the exhibition are ten paintings, three sculptures, and five drawings. Based on the theme of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, they are a fusion of Indian mythological figures, hybrids of man and beast, warring in landscapes inspired by quattrocento and Renaissance painting. They are a synthesis of Indian miniatures painted with precision and delicacy and Western classical architecture inspired by Carlo Crivelli’s The Annunciation in the National Gallery, London. Shaw’s series can be interpreted as a direct confrontation between East and West where the shattered monuments suggest the triumph of the East.

Paradise Lost will be on view from November 8, 2013 through January 11, 2014. An opening reception with the artist will be held on Thursday, November 7 from 6 to 8 PM. A catalogue will accompany the exhibition and include an essay by art historian Sir Norman Rosenthal.

Born in Calcutta and educated in London, Shaw’s oeuvre is unique amongst his contemporaries. As Rosenthal writes in the catalogue, Shaw creates, “truly modern transformations of lost worlds of culture,” that arise from, “the exotic gardens of Kashmir to the memories that lie ‘imprisoned’ in the great museums of the Western World.”

At 508 West 25th Street three painted bronzes will be exhibited. Inspired by Renaissance bronzes, the figure studies evoke wrestling subjects such as Laocoön and Michelangelo’s Dying Slave. The central sculpture, Moon Howlers . . ., is inspired by the artist’s collection of bonsai trees. This eight-foot sculpture depicts a series of human forms, with different animal heads, clinging to the branches of a giant bonsai and looking at the moon. In striking contrast to the ferocity of the figures, hundreds of delicate cherry blossoms explode from the branches and scatter at the base.

At 510 West 25th Street, Shaw’s most monumental work to date, Paradise Lost, begun in 2001 and finished just in time for the exhibition, consists of twelve panels measuring 10’ x 60’.

At 534 West 25th Street, paintings and drawings will be shown. Amongst them is St. Sebastian of the Poppies, in which the martyr is tethered to a Corinthian column as simian-faced cherubs attack. Scarlet poppies fill the foreground of this tondo-shaped work. In Arrival of the Ram King - Paradise Lost II zebra centaurs cavort within architectural ruins beneath a sunset of dazzling intensity.

Shaw’s approach is meticulous. He begins by outlining the composition with gold stained glass paint in a technique similar to ancient Asian cloisonné. Then, using porcupine quills for their precise point and flexible nature, he applies colorful enamel. Oil paints are employed for modeling the images. The surface is then embellished with glitter, crystals, and semi-precious stones.

Sir Norman Rosenthal describes Shaw’s aesthetic as, “a vision of his own made special through a brilliantly seductive technique, equally of his own invention, allowing him and us both a distant separation, yet also an involvement. Equally, the viewer is seduced with the intensity of color heightened by the inlay of precious and semi-precious stones—emeralds, rubies, sapphires, diamonds—which all contrive to push the boundaries of excess and allow for those moments of humorous, even deliberate vulgarity. Each painting and sculpture tells a story as we move about its surface and into its space.”

Raqib Shaw (b. 1974) is a Kashmiri artist who lives and works in London. Known for his opulent aesthetic featuring colorful scenes inlaid with enamel, glitter, and semi-precious stones, Shaw’s phantasmagorical dreamscapes often depict characters in conflict and commonly draw from the artist’s own “diaries” alongside the violent and erotic. After leaving India in 1998, Raqib Shaw earned his BA and MA at Central St. Martins School of Art in London and has been exhibited at prestigious venues internationally.

Major solo exhibitions include: Deitch Projects, New York (2005); Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2006); Tate Britain, London (2006); the Metropolitan Museum, New York (2008); Kunsthalle Wien Karlsplatz, Vienna (2009); and Manchester Art Gallery, UK (2013).

Significant group exhibitions include: the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2006); ICA London (2006); Deste Foundation, Centre for Contemporary Art, Athens (2006); National Gallery, London (2006); Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2011); and Asian Art Museum, San Francisco (2012).

Presentations of Shaw’s work in premier biennials internationally include: Prague Biennale (2005); Gwangju Biennale (2006); Biennale of Sydney (2010); Ukrainian Biennale of Contemporary Art, Kiev (2012); and Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane (2012).

His work is included in the public collections of leading institutions such as: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Tate, London.

Raqib Shaw has been represented by Pace Gallery since 2010.

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