"Salman Toor’s institutional debut at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York brings together a body of new paintings that sensitively treat questions of queer identity and diasporic belonging."
The exhibition, which opened in November of 2020 after a lockdown-induced deferral, is entitled How Will I Know, in reference to Whitney Houston’s 1985 hit. From the jump, Toor summons the melancholia of romantic uncertainty (“How will I know if he really loves me?”), but also a humming sense of existential unease. Houston is, of course, a gay icon and her song a dancefloor staple – or it was, until the global pandemic snuffed out most of what we once knew as nightlife. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Toor remarked, “My work was already about isolation before COVID-19.”  Indeed, these are lonely paintings, even when they depict intimacy and its discontents: moments of encounter at the gay bar, smoke breaks on sidewalks, posing for nudes.