2021 TIME100 Next
Stefan Ruiz
February 17, 2021 6:55 AM EST

In his painting The Star, Salman Toor uses classical techniques—deploying brushstrokes and lighting reminiscent of the 1800s—to render a thoroughly modern scene: a young South Asian man sits backstage in front of a mirror, wearing a furry pink jacket, as a makeup artist and a hairstylist fuss over him. That these contrasts might seem unexpected is exactly the point. Toor, who was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and lives in New York City, has made his career subverting the styles of old paintings by centering openly queer men of South Asian descent in an attempt to, as he says in the audio guide for The Star, “play with the idea” of societal norms. Now more people than ever are paying attention: the artist recently secured his first solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, which will be on display through April 2021. —Suyin Haynes

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