The Pakistani-American artist’s first solo exhibition in Australia traverses multiple worlds and times to explore the complexities of identity in this present moment.
Salman Toor is one of the most compelling figurative painters of his generation. Born in Lahore in 1983, and later relocating to the United States in 2002, the New York-based artist is known for his sumptuous, insightful, and occasionally humourous paintings and drawings.
Toor’s works are deeply informed by his engagement with a diverse range of artistic traditions, spanning the European Old Masters to Post-Impressionism, all of which cohere into startling fresh evocations of his experiences as a queer brown man living between countries and cultures.
Showcasing more than 45 paintings and works on paper, this exhibition presents an intimate and nuanced view of queer life today. Using loose sketch-like brushstrokes and a luscious colour palette Toor depicts everyday scenes of friends and lovers – lazing at home, strolling down sidewalks, cruising in parks, or revelling in late-night frivolity – as well as poignantly ambiguous encounters with family members, immigration officers and museum collections.
Vulnerability and compassion are twin currents that flow throughout Toor’s artistic practice. Within public spaces and private realms, his figures transcend society’s reproachful gaze and build their own worlds. With their swaying limbs and gentle posturing, Toor’s queer brown protagonists exude a palpable human fragility and profound emotional tenderness that invites you to share in each character’s happiness and joy while also bearing witness to their sorrow and pain.
Each painting and drawing in this exhibition conveys the tensions and thresholds of identity and the human experience. Pasts wash over the present, places inform and influence each other, and power edges around moments of pleasure. In doing so, Toor’s works imagine an unfixed world of continuous encounter and becoming.
Salman Toor: New Paintings and Drawings is organised by M WOODS in Beijing, and curated by Victor Wang, Artistic Director and Chief Curator at M WOODS. The presentation at AGWA is organised by Rachel Ciesla, Lead Creative, Simon Lee Foundation Institute of Contemporary Asian Art.