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May 22–October 23, 2022
Salman Toor: No Ordinary Love brings together more than 45 new and recent paintings and works on paper that weave together motifs found in historical paintings with 21st-century moments to create new worlds based in the artist’s imagination. The show, organized by the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), explores themes of desire, family, and history, as well as Toor’s use of art historical traditions to emphasize Brown, queer individuals and investigate obsolete conceptions of power and sexuality. He infuses sensuous pleasure with humour throughout his work and draws on his extensive understanding of European, American, and South Asian painting traditions.
The New York-based artist conjures compositions that seem to cope with, if not reconcile, South Asian culture and the stability of familial relationships, drawing on his recollections of growing up in Pakistan. Toor’s artistic work delves into his hopes and fears regarding the LGBT experience in both his birth and adopted countries. Landscapes reappear as places of peril, escape, and queer love. Artistic traditions, such as portraiture and sketching, as well as social and cultural history, such as the terrible legacy of empire inherent within many museum collections, are all revisited.
Through pieces like Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe and Flag, the Eurocentric cultural canon is playfully reconsidered, and historical histories take on new shape (2022). The picture depicts a young guy with a grotesque and fascinating pile of goods, including a feather boa, a clown mask, a leg wearing a high heel, and a vitrine encasing a brown head, and was inspired by Sir Anthony van Dyck’s Rinaldo and Armida (1629) from the BMA’s own collection of European works. It’s a scene that distills slivers of the artist’s queer identity—the work’s title even reclaims a slur—while also criticizing museums’ involvement in South Asia’s colonial pillage.
Additional insights into the artist’s output are provided through a salon-style display of 20 works on paper and a selection of the artist’s sketchbooks.
Asma Naeem, the BMA’s Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Chief Curator and Interim Co-Director, curated the exhibition, which is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue that will be released in September and includes essays by Naeem as well as writers Evan Moffitt and Hanya Yanagihara.
Salman Toor: No Ordinary Love will move to the Tampa Museum of Art in Florida, the Honolulu Museum of Art in Hawaii, and the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts after its debut in Baltimore.
The Wagner Foundation is a major supporter of this exhibition. Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso por el Arte, The Pulimood Charitable Trust, Luhring Augustine, New York, and The Blue Rider Group at Morgan Stanley all contributed to the exhibition.
Salman Toor (born Lahore, Pakistan, 1983) currently lives and works in New York. His first institutional solo exhibition, Salman Toor: How Will I Know, was recently presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2020-2021). Toor’s work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions and projects, including Living Histories: Queer Views and Old Masters at Frick Madison, New York, NY, and others held at the RISD Museum, Providence, RI; the Public Art Fund, New York, NY; Phi Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, Canada; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, IL; Lahore Biennale 2018, Pakistan; and the 2016 Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India. Toor is the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, and his work is in many public collections. Toor’s work will be presented in the forthcoming Lyon Biennial and his first solo exhibition in China will open this fall at M Woods in Beijing.
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