He has survived fire, cancer and civil war, turning his love for his lost homeland of Kashmir into mind-blowing fantastical works. Our writer takes tea among his beehives and bonsai trees
On a grubby stretch of Peckham Road, just down from a replica of Del Boy’s van from Only Fools and Horses, stands an old sausage factory. Inside are gardens, beehives , bonsai trees, tables covered in fresh rose petals and a room full of Japanese flower arrangements. Here, assistants labour painstakingly over some of the most eye-popping paintings being produced today. This is the home and studio of Raqib Shaw, a 45-year-old Indian artist, whose hyperreal and crazily detailed visions of gods, fairytales, impossible architecture and paradises lost and found, emerge in paintings and sculptures that can take up to three years to produce – even with the help of an eight-strong team (more if there’s an exhibition in the offing).
Allegory of Memories through Monozukuri by Raqib Shaw. Photograph: Raqib Shaw, courtesy Pace Gallery