NEW YORK - The Indian-born, London-based artist Raqib Shaw has taken over Pace Gallery’s three West 25th Street locations with his explosive new show, “Paradise Lost,” in what was for me one of the most exciting South Asian art events in New York City in 2013.
As the title suggests, the exhibition is redolent with themes of John Milton’s epic poem of the same name. Milton’s poem centers around a creation story common to all three Abrahamic traditions of Adam and Eve in the garden of earthly delights, their temptation by Satan and eventual expulsion from Eden.
Raqib Shaw in front of one of the paintings in “Paradise Lost.” Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.
In his debut American gallery show, Raqib Shaw explores these tropes in vivid, haunting detail in ten paintings, three sculptures, and five drawings, but the most exciting work is the enormous twelve-panel “Paradise Lost” – a 10 by 60 foot painting in the 510 West 25th Street gallery, which took over ten years to create and was finished only just in time for the November 7 opening. What an epic undertaking, and what a stunning presentation.
Raqib Shaw's Arrival of the Ram King - PARADISE LOST II, 2011-2013. Courtesy of Pace Gallery.
At the opening earlier this month, a large crowd congregated along the expanse of the painting, slowly walking up and down the length of work to absorb the painstaking detail and evolving narrative which is the hallmark of Shaw’s work, often referred to as “phantasmagorical dreamscapes.” Mythical beasts, verdant gardens and crumbling human monuments abound, created in Shaw’s signature industrial lacquer and embellished with semi-precious and precious stones.
Raqib Shaw's St. Sebastian of the Poppies, 2011-2012. Courtesy of Pace Gallery.
Example of Raqib Shaw’s work can be found in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and the Tate London. “Paradise Lost” will be on view from November 8, 2013 through January 11, 2014.