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b. 1983, Pakistan

Salman Toor Biography

Salman Toor is a New York-based Pakistan-born contemporary painter. He combines academic techniques, art-historical references, American and South Asian pop culture, and a loose sketch-like figurative style to create emotionally heightened narratives based on lived experiences.

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Born and partially raised in Lahore, Salman Toor's family moved to suburban Ohio when he was 14. He studied Painting and Drawing at Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, graduating with a BFA in 2006 before completing an MFA in Painting at New York's Pratt Institute in 2009. Salman Toor's paintings vary in style from detailed works reminiscent of 19th-century history painting to expressive, semi-abstract figures.

Salman Toor's main body of work is comprised of lush, figurative interior scenes, and is focused on imagined young queer brown men living in New York or the cities of South Asia. In a semi-autobiographical mode, without overtly portraying himself or friends and family, Toor presents tableaus of public and private spaces that offer an intimate window into intersections of queer and diasporic identities.

Strong emotions are conveyed through the faces of the figures present in Salman Toor's paintings, in environments richly populated with the ephemera of modern life, including smartphones, chargers, food, and drink. As the artist explained in an interview with them, he is interested in scenes that define 'relationships and moments that make the experience of being an immigrant, a painter, and a queer person of color in an urban setting.'

Exploring a sense of community within these identities, Salman Toor presents intimate scenes like After Party (2018), of dancing and having fun with friends. Works like Salman Toor's Bar Boy (2019), conversely, present more passive moments, in which figures stand disconnected from their surroundings, implying a sense of alienation or nostalgic reflection.

Enhancing his scenes with fantastical and dramatic elements, Salman Toor renders them with swirling lines and palettes of muted browns and greens, disrupted with pinks and yellows that pop out in the overall composition. As evidenced by Salman Toor's Whitney Museum solo show in 2020, and appearances at the Lahore Biennale in Pakistan and the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the artist is an emerging presence on the New York and international art scene.

Salman Toor Solo Exhibitions include:

How Will I Know, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2020); I Know a Place, Nature Morte, New Delhi (2019); Drawings from 'The Electrician', Honey Ramka, New York (2015); The Happy Servant, Aicon Gallery, New York (2013); I♥ Kitsch, Rohtas II, Lahore (2011); Three Paintings, The Cultural Center, Kahlo Gallery, Amherst, Massachusetts (2009).

Salman Toor Group Exhibitions include:

Them, Galerie Perrotin New York (2019); Are you Here? Lahore Biennale (2018); Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi (2016); Cinephiliac: Art Transcending Technology and Motion, Twelve Gates Arts, Philadelphia (2013); All about Us, Canvas Gallery, Karachi (2010); Wounds, Aicon Gallery, London (2009).

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020

Salman Toor
featured artworks

Three Boys by Salman Toor contemporary artwork painting
Salman Toor Three Boys, 2019 Oil on panel
30 x 20 inches
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The Arrival by Salman Toor contemporary artwork painting
Salman Toor The Arrival, 2019 Oil on panel
18 x 14 inches
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The Texter by Salman Toor contemporary artwork painting
Salman Toor The Texter, 2019 Oil on panel
20 x 16 inches
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