Salman Toor is a rare storyteller, and yet the blurred lines of fact and fiction make the work all that more provocative. There is elegance and yet something rather beautifully raw in his paintings, and as the first solo museum exhibition in Asia of Pakistan-born, New York-based artist Salman Toor, showing the works in Beijing at M WOODS has a heavier meaning, one of freedom and something secretive, suggestive and yet hidden. 

"Coming back to a poorer country had freedom in it," Toor told us in an interview last year. "Time is cheaper and the nagging questions of an ultra liberal city like NYC are far away. In front of me is a dysfunctional bureaucracy, a failing state, abject poverty and an immunity to it, a beautiful vista of gulmohar trees, my family and my handful of lifelong friends, along with that old illicit feeling of being a rebel late in the night. It is a place without ambition, which is an ideal state for work for me. The demons leave the studio for a whole week after a great journey like this."

From the vantage point as a queer artist, an immigrant to America and now showing a body of work in China, there is something rather universal in the human experience in Toor's work. It feels like a challenge to the system of tolerance, and a beautifully sublime one at that. —Evan Pricco