Tate, Exquisite Forests and Raqib Shaw

On his second collaboration with Tate, Kashmir born artist Raqib Shaw, presents a short animation, seed of the “Forgotten Forests of Xanadu”, a reference to the summer capital of the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan.

Raqib Shaw, alongside the artists Miroslaw Balka, Olafur Eliasson, Dryden Goodwin, Julian Opie, Mark Titchner and Bill Woodrow, was commissioned by Tate to seed the animations/ trees that form part of “This Exquisite Forest”, a collaborative drawing project, run by Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin as a joint venture of Tate and Google.

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW342PBT45E[/youtube]


The forest consists of a series of animations developed in stages by individual people, in the same way as the Surrealists used separate sentences to create their flamboyant poems in the 1920s parlour game This Exquisite Corpse. Any Google account holder may contribute to the project, following instructions given by the artist regarding the proper development of the tree. In Raqib Shaw’s case, he prompts the participants to ‘add to the growth of the plants‘ and notes that ‘the eggs need to hatch to reveal mutated species’.

[quote align=”center” color=”#b64736″]Any Google account holder may contribute to the project[/quote]

The artist is, indeed, an expert in establishing the rules for the creation of a digital eco-system, as he is known for the depiction of eatherial landscapes, filled with intense colours and glorious details, coming from various Asian art traditions and techniques. In 2007, at the Contemporary Art Sale of Sotheby’s in London, The Garden of Earthly Delights III, part of the series inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s work, fetched $5.49 million, setting a record for Indian art.

Following his latest solo shows in London and Paris, Shaw’s involvement in Tate’s project  reflects his everlasting relationship with art. Despite the current crisis in the art market, the London based artist is making the ‘best work’ of his life, and ‘there is no pressure to sell it. It’s the triumph of art’. And Tate’s “Exquisite Forest” is all about that.

A physical installation of This Exquisite Forest is on display at Tate Modern (Level 3) until the new year.


 Raqib Shaw, The Garden of Earthly Delights III, 2003, Triptych. Each panel: 120 x 60 in. (304.8 x 152.4 cm), Acrylic, glitter, enamel and rhinestones on board. Photo by Tom Powel, courtesy of Victoria Miro Gallery 

 Exhibition information:

23 July 2012 – early 2013

Tate Modern Museum, Sumner Street, Bankside

Admission FREE


by Marw Kouvatsou


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