Salman Toor - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Friday, March 4, 2022 | Phillips

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  • 'Somewhere between drawing and painting, Itinerant is an invented character. Patched, frayed and cobbled together, he is a multicultural trope of the beggar on crutches who appears in moral parables and belongs nowhere, an outsider among insiders, this figure is a reminder of the tragic. He is everyone’s poor ancestor.'
    —Salman Toor 

    A wanderer, travelling and living between places, Itinerant Vagrant is an autobiographical character from Salman Toor’s restless imagination. In his recent Whitney exhibition Toor’s work is cited as offering ‘intimate views into the imagined lives of young, queer Brown men residing between New York City and South Asia.’i Born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan and now living in New York, Toor draws from his personal memories and experiences to depict his transatlantic narratives. We can understand in the present example the search for a fixed home and an exploration into what it means to belong. Exhibited at the Lahore Biennale in 2018, Itinerant Vagrant captures these themes of anxiety and identity central to the artist’s work.


    Dressed in a long, loose-fitting robe, a leg missing from the knee, the figure balances his weight on his supporting wooden crutch. Wearing a headscarf reminiscent of those traditionally worn in Toor’s native Pakistan, this intriguing character wanders along an unknown path, his belongings bundled in a hanging pack. Amidst the tragedy obscuring the scene protrudes a nebulous background painted in a crystalline beige and blue finish, acting as the backdrop of passages of text written in emerald green. Unevenly distributed on the board, the text heightens the emotive and autobiographical theme in the painting.  Leaving certain parts of the background without text, Toor leaves subtle visual cues for space for new stories to be written.


    The present example draws on the artist’s studying of the Old Masters in both technique and subject matter: ‘I have trained myself in academic painting, when I graduated Pratt in 2009 I still wanted to be like Rubens and Van Dyck and I wanted to have 17th century costumes and candlelight around me and have that faux gravitas.’ii Toors’ depiction of the draped cloth and layering of narrative is reminiscent of the figures from 17th century Rubens. 


    Peter Paul Reubens, Saint Bonaventure, circa 1600s, Palais des beaux arts de Lille. Image: © Kim Young Tae / Bridgeman Images


    Itinerant Vagrant is as much about nostalgia as it is about hope and faith – the itinerary of the vagabond’s journey is unknown to us. A reflection of multicultural identities constantly in motion, Toor’s invented character is unfixed in time and space, freed from definite categories. An image of nomadic freedom, Itinerant Vagrant oscillates between Salman Toor’s past marked by Pakistan’s conventional ideals that have marginalised him for his queerness and a future in which he hopes
    for liberty.


    Rising to maturity and monumental institutional celebration, Salman Toor has recently had his first major solo museum exhibition in 2021 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where his works were exhibited along with Dutch Old Masters. His work can further be found in the permanent collections of the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, New York, NY; M Woods, Beijing, China; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Tate, London, UK; RISD Museum, Providence, RI; Wake Forest University Art Collection, Winston-Salem, NC; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.


    Collector's Digest


    •    Living and working in New York City, Salman Toor is a Pakistani artist represented by Luhring Augustine and Aicon Gallery.


    •    As an artist, he is inspired by 19th century portraiture and how the importance of attire
    reflects identity. 


    •    Subject matters he depicts in his works include solidarity, love, friendship and also comments on conservative intolerance and homophobia. His paintings explore ideas about beauty, multi-ethic progressiveness and the redefinition of urban culture. 


    •    Salman Toor was recently celebrated at his solo show, Salman Toor: How Will I Know, hosted by the Whitney Museum of American Art which ended in April 2021.


    i New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Salman Toor: How Will I Know, 2020-2021, online

    ii Salman Toor in interview with Brian Alfred in Sound & Vision podcast

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Lahore Biennale, Are You Here, 18 - 31 March 2018


Itinerant Vagrant

signed and dated 'Salman Toor '18' on the reverse
oil on panel
55.7 x 25.4 cm (21 7/8 x 10 in.)
Painted in 2018.

Full Cataloguing

£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £81,900

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey

Specialist, Associate Director, Head of Day Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art
+44 20 7318 4084

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 4 March 2022