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Art

Vanguard Spotlight: Salman Toor’s Museum Milestone in Asia

Ayanna Dozier
Jan 19, 2023 4:30PM

Salman Toor, The History Room, 2022. © Salman Toor. Photo by Farzad Owrang. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine.

Featured in The Artsy Vanguard 2020, Salman Toor is adding to his already impressive profile with a solo exhibition at M WOODS, his first museum presentation in Asia. Curated by artistic director and chief curator Victor Wang alongside assistant curator Qi Yuanlin, “Salman Toor: New Paintings and Drawings” features 27 paintings and 23 works on paper made over the past year.

This Beijing presentation, on view through March 9th, follows Toor’s incredible museum debut in 2020 with “How Will I Know” at the Whitney Museum of American Art; ever since that show, Toor’s primary and secondary markets have been on the rise. In 2022, his work set and broke multiple auction records, culminating in the sale of Four Friends (2019) for $1.5 million, nearly four times its high estimate of $400,000 at Sotheby’s.

Salman Toor, Thanksgiving, 2022. © Salman Toor. Photo by Farzad Owrang. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine.

Salman Toor, Ali, 2022. © Salman Toor. Photo by Farzad Owrang. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine.

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Known for his moody, atmospheric figurative paintings that dramatize the fictional lives of queer Brown men negotiating metropolitan culture, Toor breaks new ground at M WOODS, sharing his dreamy visions of love and belonging against the backdrop of alienated worlds haunted by colonial pasts.

Unlike his previous works, where bars and bedrooms are sites of queer expression, the New York–based artist turns to nature and museums as sites of both self-discovery and trauma. In the painting Thanksgiving (2022), a seemingly morose individual walks away from a variety of social gatherings and into the isolation of the natural world. In other works, Toor’s figures view ambiguous cultural museum artifacts that reflect the tension of Western colonial invasion in the East that continues to haunt daily contemporary life.

In Toor’s purposefully vague dreamscapes, audiences are never sure of where the characters are. To this end, the sense of dread or alienation they experience becomes more universal, untethered to any specific locale.

Ayanna Dozier
Ayanna Dozier is Artsy’s Staff Writer.
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019