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signed and dated 'Salman Toor '11' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
42 ½ x 38 1/8in. (107 x 96.8cm.)
Painted in 2011
Rohtas II Gallery, Lahore.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2011.
Lahore, Rohtas II Gallery, I Love Kitsch, 2011.

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Anna Touzin
Anna Touzin Specialist, Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

Part still-life, part banquet scene, Recipe by Salman Toor is an animated painting rendered in sumptuous colour. A smiling woman gestures towards something unseen; in front of her, luscious grapes, apples, peaches, and cherries tumble across the spotless tablecloth. Although she appears to have been born from a Renaissance canvas, Toor’s model is in fact the Pakistani actress Reema, whose image the artist copied from an advertisement for Habib Cooking Oil. Painted in 2011, Recipe is an early work by Toor that displays his interest in Old Masterly imagery. Toor spent years studying the works of Caravaggio, Peter Paul Rubens, and other Renaissance painters, and in the classical dress, delicate modelling, and rich colours of the present work this lineage is unmistakable. As Toor explains, ‘The floridness and vividness of their styles appeals to me. The overcrowded Baroque compositions of Rubens, the dignity of the subjects in Van Dyck, the lushness of romance and sensuality in Watteau, the decorative brilliance of Veronese. It is a pre-industrial way of looking, a foreign language of picture making’ (S. Toor quoted in J. Alvares, ‘In Conversation with Salman Toor’, ArtNow, October 2017).

Currently the subject of a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Toor was born in Lahore but moved to the United States to study painting. Along with the western Old Masters, he also identifies Pakistani art traditions as an important influence: his canvases are united by enthralling narration and the marrying of artistic traditions. Toor depicts a subtle intimacy, evident in the closed eyes and pointed finger of the present work’s protagonist. His figures are richly expressive; as Roberta Smith has written, the mood of his paintings ‘exerts an emotional pull that is rare’ (R. Smith, ‘Salman Toor, a Painter at Home in Two Worlds’, New York Times, 25 December 2020, p. C7). A late-night dance party, the loneliness of a crowded bar, a woman exhausted yet content at the end of a long dinner party: it is such vulnerable, quiet encounters that Toor seeks to represent, and he portrays his subjects with exceptional honesty and generosity.

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