“A violent change of scenery is good for painting,” Salman Toor told Juxtapoz in the Winter months leading up to his museum show, Salman Toor: No Ordinary Love, on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art through October 22, 2022. What is so profound about this statement is the intricate and insular world that Toor creates in his paintings and drawings. These are not violent places, but places that seem to be created and nurtured in order to get away from a violence. And that violence could be political, social or just personal, but here in Toor’s world, it’s getting okay to be who you really are.
Salman Toor: No Ordinary Love features 45 paintings and drawings created from 2019—2022, right in the heart of our drastic shift in daily lives and a time of great introspection and output from the Lahore, Pakistan-born, NYC-based artist. The works hum with dreamy sexuality and lonely moments of self-reflection. What Toor has captured in his work is an ornate and timeless classicism that, although you can get the sense of a contemporary moment, fits rightfully amongst the great works of the 18th and 19th centuries. That Toor created works inspired by, and now displayed next to, some of the BMA’s European collections is a fitting reminder that paintings can speak to each other hundreds of years apart. Where queer identity and intimacy being at the center of many of his works, Toor seemed to have taken the pandemic’s in-between moments, the longing for connection and the intensity of self-reflection, and gave it a historical aesthetic. In recent years, few painters have emerged with such a lush vision like Toor, and that he is beginning to be painted in the history books is perfectly in tune with his vast talent. —Evan Pricco