Salman Toor

Salman Toor is a Pakistani-American figurative painter. Often billed as a leading member of the loosely-associated group of LGBTQ painters called ‘New Queer Intimists’, his sumptuous, gestural paintings examine the everyday lives of young, gay, South Asian men.

Born in Lahore in 1983, Toor discovered a passion for drawing whilst studying at the city’s prestigious Aitchison College. After moving to the United States to attend Ohio Wesleyan University, he received his Bachelor of Arts in 2006. This was followed by a Master of Fine Arts from New York’s Pratt Institute in 2009. He now lives and works in New York.

Toor’s work frequently references Old Masters. He has cited Rubens, Van Dyck, Caravaggio and Watteau as some of his biggest inspirations. ‘I remember feeling something, seeing these artists from Europe: from another part of the world, from a completely different time. There was a sense of this very tragic heroism — of finding both the romantic and the grisly,’ he said.

Toor has an obsession with arsenic-green paint. Since 2019, it has dominated his most notable works, including Four Friends (2019), Bar Boy (2019) and Thunderstorm (2021). He said the shade gives his work the impression of a world being viewed through the lens of a wine bottle, whilst also adding associations with absinthe and toxicity. ‘One of the things I like about green is it can be very hot and very cold,’ he explained. ‘Blue is cold, and it belongs to Picasso. With green, there’s a flickering light that’s nocturnal and poisonous.’

Toor has opened solo exhibitions at the Whitney in New York (2020–21), M Woods in Beijing (2022–23) and the Baltimore Museum of Art (2022), all before turning 40. A catalogue titled No Ordinary Love, containing more than 45 works, was produced to coincide with the latter.

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Girl and Boy with Driver

Salman Toor (b. 1983)

Rooftop Party with Ghosts 1

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

The Servant

Salman Toor (b. 1983)

The Singers

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Bendiyan Farm

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Playground II

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Best Friends

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

The Palm Reader III

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Dancing to Whitney

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Nina Q and Nina X with Pearls

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Barbie Bakri

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Untitled (Woman)

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

The Happy Servant

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Barbie Bakri

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Liberty Porcelain

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Driver and Maid

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Avenue B Apartment

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Untitled (Woman)

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Untitled (Self Portrait)

SALMAN TOOR (B. 1983)

Humiliated Ancestor #2