Raqib Shaw - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Sunday, June 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    White Cube, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Through inspiration drawn from Western and Eastern mythology, artist Raqib Shaw created the radiant and opulent work: The Mild eyed Melancholy of the Lotus Eaters II. To create this piece, the artist used a variety of sources such as John Milton’s epic poem The Fall of Man and Homer’s Odyssey. However, it was the poem The Lotos-Eaters of 1832 by Lord Tennyson where Shaw draws the titular connection. Shaw adopts this type of narrative, literal imagery, and symbolism in order to weave his adult experiences with his childhood memories, giving it all life in an imaginary paradise. The lotus eaters in this piece are depicted as hybrid mythological figures being consumed, intoxicated, and subdued by the hallucinatory effects of the lotus flowers. When the group of mariners came across the pond filled with lotus flowers that they began to consume them uncontrollably. Soon they could no longer leave for they had been completely enchanted by the perfume of the flowers and the paradise in which they rested. Shaw explained that 'through my work I am writing a diary, documenting the world I see and experience. In this way ideas are constantly being explored. The animal-human figures are representations of myself and the main protagonists in society that surround me.' (Raqib Shaw quoted in: Ben East, 'Raqib Shaw's Hopeless Quest for Beauty,' The National, Abu Dhabi, 3 Februari 2013, online resource). This artwork was developed through the application of acrylic paint, enamel, glitter, and rhinestones onto paper. This mixed media technique is indicative of the artist’s rich background, as well as the diversified historical and literal sources from which he chooses to draw inspiration.

    This artwork belongs to a series titled Paradise Lost. Composed of several paintings and sculptural works this series was first exhibited at the White Cube in 2011. The paintings in the series were all realised according to a specific season, time, and climate. The Mild eyed Melancholy of the Lotus Eaters II is a spring composition due to its vivid, shimmering, and incandescent colouration as well over all themes. The meticulous depictions of the hybrid figures and flowers are reminiscent of Western art such as Northern Renaissance painting, particularly the work of Hieronymus Bosch. For instance in The Garden of Earthly Delights, completed by Bosch in 1503-1515, the central panel shows a similar saturated composition, bright colouration, and paradisiacal atmosphere. Shaw also draws on his Indian background to extract inspiration for his work. For example, in the Icon of Chinnamasta, the Mahavidya arising from the joined bodies of the Originating Couple, Kangra, completed circa 1800, a similar intense, luxurious, sensuous interaction between the mythical figures takes place. Together all the elements of the piece form a paradise of Shaw’s own making. In a romantic outcry for times gone by, the artist yearns for the innocence and simplicity of childhood. Through this intricate and emotional piece a personal mythology of hope, sadness, and courage is unfurled before the viewer.

Property From an Important European Collection


The Mild-Eyed Melancholy of The Lotus Eaters II

acrylic, enamel, rhinestone and glitter on paper laid on board
121.2 x 206.2 cm (47 3/4 x 81 1/8 in.)
Signed, titled and dated 'Raqib Shaw "The Mild-Eyed Melancholy of The Lotus-Eaters II' 2009 on the reverse. Further Signed and dated 'Raqib Shaw 2009' on the reverse.

£300,000 - 500,000 ‡♠

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 27 June 2016