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Bendiyan Farm

Bendiyan Farm
signed and dated ‘Salman Toor '16’ (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
57 1⁄8 x 38 1⁄8in. (145 x 96.8cm.)
Painted in 2016
Private Collection, Pakistan (acquired directly from the artist in 2016).
Special notice

This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Anna Touzin
Anna Touzin Specialist, Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

Set amongst verdant trees and sun-drenched fields, a clutch of figures gossip and lounge in Salman Toor’s Bendiyan Farm (2016). Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner, its title refers to a community of luxury farmhouses located outside the city of Lahore where Toor grew up. Rendered in rich earthy tones, the work seems a veritable comedy of manners, revealing all the complexities of a garden party. Indeed, the languid atmosphere and casual intimacy evoke the comfort and ease of an eighteenth-century conversation piece, the once-popular painting format used for group portraits. Yet although he drew inspiration from Poussin’s landscapes and Rococo arcadias, Toor has dressed the figures here in traditional Pakistani garments to situate the scene beyond the European tradition. ‘Art history,’ he explains, ‘has formed my imaginary map of the world, conquests, migrations, ideas of civilization, foreignness, and fashion. I like seeing the thread of the past in the present’ (S. Toor interviewed by C. Packard, ‘Blurring the Lines Between Public and Private’, BOMB Magazine, 12 February 2021).

As a child in Lahore, Toor devoured both European and Indian visual culture, from local folk art and images of Mughal princes to the canvases of Thomas Gainsborough. Attending university in the United States, his art historical studies veered decidedly towards the western tradition, revealing the myriad ways power and identity have long been represented. Accordingly, Toor’s painterly practices revels in these dual inheritances, placing subaltern and oft-overlooked narratives in dialogue with art historical masters as a means of reimagining the ways in which visual culture is conceived. He sees himself as part of a generation ‘taking on art history to update, critique, and tweak it, to write ourselves into its rich story’; certainly, Bendiyan Farm traverses these twinned lineages (S. Toor, quoted ibid.). For Toor, whose solo exhibition No Ordinary Love is currently on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art, recuperating a Romantic idiom offers a multitude of possibilities for exploring our current social moment, and the resulting canvases are sensitive, empathetic, and wholly human.

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