By  on April 14, 2006

MIAMI — London-based artist Raqib Shaw has the methodical discipline and aesthetic fancy of a couture seamstress.

Testament to that is his exhibition, "Garden of Earthly Delights," which closes Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami.

The series, a mélange of gold stained glass window paint, car enamel, glitter and semiprecious stones, is reminiscent of the embroidered, beaded products of Lesage, as each painting takes months to complete and is a compilation of sections.

"I find many of my materials in London's Soho, the birthplace of fashion from the college to the streets," said Shaw, who grew up in Kashmir, where his family makes carpets and trades shawls. He attended Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London.

Bonnie Clearwater, director and chief curator at the MOCA, sees the correlation between his work and textiles. "It's intricate and decorative," she said.

Inspired by the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, whom Shaw considers to be "the first Surrealist," and by research at London's Natural History and Victoria and Albert Museums, Shaw depicts an aquatic garden paradise of chimeras and real creatures from butterflies to anemones. Shaw also drew inspiration for the exhibition's name from Bosch's signature painting.

Depending on one's distance from Shaw's work, the sexually charged illustrations appear figurative and exact, or patterned and abstract.

"They have ties to Eastern design and art, but also to the history of Western art such as Jackson Pollock and Frank Stella," said Clearwater.

The exhibition's nine paintings and 10 works on paper combine initial portions of the series with new pieces introduced at Deitch Projects in New York last fall. Shaw, who is also represented by the Victoria Miro Gallery in London, has quickly amassed a waiting list for his work. MOCA is the first museum to stage a solo show of his work, thanks to Clearwater tapping him when he was a relative unknown three years ago.

"One of my specialties is medieval Irish illuminated manuscripts, and I saw a strong relation between the looks. He also has a great interest in technique and craft, which has been overridden by the conceptual side in contemporary art for a long time," she said.One of Shaw's pieces is included in the Museum of Modern Art's "Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking," which is up through May 22.

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