By Jo Manby
The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6ER
On view until 19 November 2017
As promised, my next review of The Whitworth’s summer exhibitions explores the art of London-based artist Raqib Shaw. His gloriously opulent exhibition is part of the South Asia art and culture programme that marks the 70th anniversary of Partition. The programme is part of the work of the New North & South network which involves ten North of England organisations.
The exhibition is co-curated by Dr Maria Balshaw, Director of Tate, Diana Campbell Betancourt, Director of Dhaka Art Summit and the artist himself.
Some key facts about Raqib Shaw:
- Shaw was born in Calcutta and grew up in Kashmir, which he describes as a very beautiful place etched on his memory.
- His family are involved in textiles.
- Originally he wanted to be a teacher of English literature.
- He is totally devoted to his art and lives for his work.
- His Peckham studio doubles as his home and is filled with beautiful objects and trailing plants.
The interior of the first main gallery at The Whitworth is transformed, and now has the feel of an exclusive boudoir-style club. Shaw’s newly commissioned wallpaper covers every wall, dark both in colour and theme (it’s available to buy in The Whitworth shop as a limited edition). It is called ‘After A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (see below) and features phantasmagorical beings intertwined with braided creepers and branches over a background the colour of lapis lazuli.
After A Midsummer Night’s Dream, © Raqib Shaw and The Whitworth, The University of Manchester