Salman Toor’s first solo museum exhibition, “How Will I Know,” is currently on view at The Whitney Museum of American Art. Featuring a series of new and recent paintings, the show exemplifies the artist’s practice of capturing moments in the lives of queer Brown men, living in New York City and Southern Asia.
Toor’s style applies a sketch-like quickness to his highly detailed oil paintings, primarily featured at a small scale. The artist creates snapshots of imagined characters based on himself and his friends, giving the viewer narratives of two juxtaposing settings—candid and comfortable, alongside moments of discomfort and alienation.
A recurring nocturnal mood denoted by muted hues often puts Toor’s subjects bathed in halos of light, made by mobile phones raised to their faces, computers perched on bedside tables, and lamps glowing on the sidelines. Glimpses of these subtle, intimate moments leave viewers with a sense of gratitude for the narratives not often told finally receiving their time in the spotlight.
“Toor’s tender depictions of friendship and solitude while at leisure reflect on our hyper-connected present and yet still feel incredibly timeless,” said curatorial assistant Ambika Trasi. “Painting his characters as though haloed in divine light or as well-dressed dandies, his work pays homage to ‘chosen family’ and the importance it has for the communities that he references.”
On view through April 4, 2021, visitors to The Whitney can expect to see pieces like the peacefully nude Sleeping Boy, the nighttime living room interior entitled Four Friends, and a lighthearted moment captured in textured brushstrokes called Puppy Play Date.