Artist Salman Toor has a penchant for the evenings. In the quiet and secret night, undercurrents are surging. By depicting such a hazy night, the protagonist in the painting, who often appears in the image of urban queer (Queer), constructs a habitat full of longing, joy and freedom. living place.
Tu’s first art museum solo exhibition in Asia “Night Rainbow” will open on December 17, 2022 at M Woods Art Museum, Beijing, and will last until March 9, 2023. The exhibition covers 27 recent paintings and 23 works on paper by the Pakistani-American artist.
The creation of the picture is obviously self-reporting, and the protagonist in the painting looks like the artist himself, and of course it can be anyone who has a similar experience. By blurring the lines between autobiography and fiction, Tu offers a unique perspective on the lived experiences of immigrants and sexual minorities, and considers the complexities of love, gender, and identity.
The works in the central exhibition hall on the first floor are connected in series with “night” as the clue. Night is both a visual element and a metaphor in Tu’s works. The swaying tree branches in “Night Park” echo the artist’s femininity of the figures, and he presents them on the canvas with a representative green tone. One of the reasons why Tu loves green is that “it can be hot or cold. Blue is cold, it belongs to Picasso. And green has a kind of flickering light inside, it is night, poisonous (reminiscent of absinthe), like emeralds and jade.”
The work “Thanksgiving” presents a community of immigrants and locals: in the backyard of a residential house in Brooklyn, New York, several people enjoy dinner on the patio, one A singer is singing for the guests, and the protagonist in the foreground of the picture is strolling along a fence path, thinking. Putting different characters together in the same time and space is an attempt to integrate reality and fiction.
If “night” is the protective color in painting creation, then “home” is a sanctuary for the body and mind of the characters in the painting. The works in the “Daily Moments” exhibition hall depict intimate scenes of home life, and they are intended to serve as a portrayal of the life of a sexual minority who travels between the United States and Pakistan. He hopes to create a space in his works that makes him feel warm, safe and happy, “here I can be myself freely.”
In the works “The Man Who Reads” and “The Man Who Doodled”, the protagonists spend their time in a warm and comfortable environment. In “Dressing Table” and “Children’s Play”, “home” has become a place to explore self-identity and even be reprimanded in the process of growing up.
Among the several metaphorical paintings exhibited this time, “The Room of History” is the most representative. A museum space filled with statues ranging from western classicist busts to age-old heads, an open ancient book on a table and a miniature arch where a man in a blue cap stands On one side, his open hands seem to be interacting with these objects. The artist’s selection of museum objects hints at their nature as colonial looting trophies. These artworks placed in museums may, like immigrant groups, face a redefinition of identity.
Tu was born in a middle-class family in Lahore, Pakistan in 1983. He started painting at the age of five and showed extraordinary talent for painting since he was a child. After graduating from high school, he went to the United States to study painting and pursue a Master of Fine Arts.
For a long time, Tu received the training of academic painting, using the classics of art history as the material of creation. In 2012, he tried to show the current life scenes in a style similar to cartoon illustrations, and began to pay attention to his own living conditions. Beginning in 2016, Tu took a more explicit approach to depicting his experiences living as a South Asian immigrant and LGBTQ person.
In recent years, the creation of diagrams has shown new changes: the space depicted has gradually shifted from indoor scenes to outdoor scenery. At the same time, the narrative nature of the work is weakened, and the images become more metaphorical. “I want to make the work more abstract to a certain extent, providing a more open space for interpretation.” This change is prominently reflected in his large-scale painting “Park at Night” created in 2022.
Curator Wang Zongfu commented: “Today, contemporary artists continue to expand the potential of this subject of painting by depicting people who have often been marginalized and ignored in the past, including people of color, women and queer groups. An important contributor to the revival of portraiture, he made visible those who were once invisible in art.”