Following the success of his exhibitions at Aicon Gallery in New York and Nature Morte in New Delhi, Salman Toor only had nine months to prepare for his solo show at the Whitney Museum, “How Will I Know,” originally slated to open in March 2020. Painted from memory and imagination, Toor’s quotidian scenes of contemporary queer South Asian men often reference the art-historical canon. The Bar on East 13th (2019) reimagines
Édouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882), while Lunch (2019) more subtly references the iconography of Jacopo Bassano’s The Supper at Emmaus (ca. 1538).
Toor has often described his subjects as fluctuating between queer boy and Brown immigrant man. At times, his lanky figures sway and drink as Whitney Houston plays in the background—made evident by the aptly titled Dancing to Whitney (2018). Gentle and jovial, the figures lean towards one another in tender embraces or partake in glamorous makeovers, reminiscent of a romantic comedy.
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