No Ordinary Love: A New Exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art is Far from Ordinary

No Ordinary Love: A New Exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art is Far from Ordinary

Since May, Salman Toor’s “No Ordinary Love” has been on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The exhibit boasts more than 45 paintings as well as a selection of Toor’s sketchbook drawings, that blend historical motif, echo the impressionist works of Monet and van Gogh, and simultaneously take on a contemporary feel. 

Toor’s works invert historical traditions in art and feature queer and brown individuals as a way to explore outdated concepts of power and the way in which it is presented through art. Toor was born in Pakistan, and his works are a mesh of his religious upbringing as well as his sexuality. Toor looks to give representation to individuals that are otherwise missing from historical art canon. “No Ordinary Love” is a vibrant proclamation of love depicted in various ways. 

Toor said, “I like these… bodies of color inhabiting familiar, bourgeois, urban, interior spaces…  Sometimes they can look like lifestyle images. They are also fantasies about myself and my community.” 

The collection shines with vibrant color through scenes of nighttime taxi rides shared with friends, isolating family gatherings, and painted night scenes that create a world that the viewer could almost walk into. Toor utilizes color intentionally. The vibrant and saturated colors are used to convey emotion. The color green appears throughout his works, and as explained in the exhibit, Toor works with green for its “nocturnal” and alluring quality. 

Raiannamei Elad ‘23 said, “He merges his different identities through his art in a way that is compelling and beautiful to the audience. You can feel the turmoil and conflict he experienced but also how much growth has occurred when he accepted who he is.” 

Toor is only one of the contemporary artists that the museum has featured in recent years. The BMA invites contemporary artists to reinterpret the historical works that are held within its walls. The museum itself has a curated collection of works that span from ancient Egypt and other ancient civilizations, to the Renaissance, the Impressionist movement, to more contemporary pieces today. 

The inclusion of a variety of works aligns with the museum’s mission statement, which says: “This belief is that art is at the heart of the BMA…with a commitment to artistic excellence and social equity in every decision from art presentation, interpretation, and collecting… creating a museum welcoming to all.” 

The museum has been a favorite among students in the surrounding universities of Loyola, Johns Hopkins, and Towson, as it is within walking distance and admission is always free. It is the largest art museum in Baltimore, with a connecting sculpture garden, allowing for hours of artistic exploration through many mediums and forms. 

Visit the Baltimore Museum of Art for yourself, open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

Featured Image Courtesy of Emma Straus