Raqib Shaw: Self Portrait
Absolutely ludicrous. That’s what Raqib Shaw’s art is. And it’s hard to express just how ludicrous it all is, really. His paintings are big, Renaissance-inspired maelstroms of death, gold, hybrid animals, gaping fanged vaginas and screaming skeletons. He’s the art world’s own Liberace, a Kashmir-born Brit with the most ridiculous taste on earth.
Basically, imagine all your favourite Renaissance paintings in the National Gallery with the crazy dialled up to 11. Shaw is obviously a lover and a student of the Old Masters, and he uses their tropes for his own purposes: the extreme perspective, the dramatic classical composition, the clothing, the colours.
There’s a real mish-mash of things going on here: you’ll spot Kashmiri architecture, Peckham street scenes, bottles of champagne, mythical animals and Japanese clothing. These works are reflections of the artist – moments from his past, the places he’s lived, ruminations on death, all that shit. They’re hectic visions of his life, imagined and real, frozen beautifully and luxuriously on canvas.
Next door there are three hyper-sexualised, twisting bronze sculptures of centaurs and bat-headed dudes with tooth-y minges. They’re just as good as the paintings, only less colourful.
These are grotesque, gaudy and, yes, ludicrous works, but they’re lovingly made, fun, honest, and really pretty great.