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Salman Toor: How Will I Know

Salman Toor, Four Friends, 2019. Oil on plywood, 40 × 40 in. (101.6 × 101.6 cm). Collection of Christie Zhou. © Salman Toor. Image courtesy the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.

For his first museum solo exhibition, Salman Toor (b. 1983) presents new and recent oil paintings. Known for his small-scale figurative works that combine academic technique and a quick, sketch-like style, Toor offers intimate views into the imagined lives of young, queer Brown men residing between New York City and South Asia. Recurring color palettes and references to art history heighten the emotional impact of Toor’s paintings and add a fantastical element to his narratives drawn from lived experience. 

Lush interior scenes depict friends dancing, playing with puppies, and gazing into their smartphones. In these idealistic settings, Toor’s figures are freed from the impositions placed upon them by the outside world. In contrast, his more muted tableaus highlight moments of passivity to convey nostalgia or alienation. One painting features a forlorn man whose possessions are on display for the scrutiny of airport security officers; another renders unspoken tensions around a family dinner table palpable. Taken as a whole, Toor’s paintings consider vulnerability within contemporary public and private life and the notion of community in the context of queer, diasporic identity.