A Significant Miniature: the work of Shazia Sikander

(Cross-posted from Collage)

Collage loves the work of Shazia Sikander. The Lahore born artist’s study of the traditional techniques for painting Persian portraits has led to an exceptional body of of internationally exhibited work which ranges from miniatures to large scale paintings and animations. You can find more information on herwebsite and this article by Hilarie M. Sheets on ArtNews is an excellent introduction to her work.

A murky black rectangle glistens and undulates on the screen of Shahzia Sikander’s laptop as the artist shows a visitor to her New York studio a passage from her animation in progress. Gradually, the field seems to disintegrate into a

the scroll sikander detail

 dense accumulation of irregular black marks that vanish one by one. Viewers familiar with Sikander’s work may recognize that these seemingly abstract black shapes are in fact precise renderings of the stylized hairdo of the Gopi women—worshippers of the Hindu god Krishna, whom Sikander often depicted in her miniature paintings from the 1990s. The hairdos have reappeared, disembodied, in many of the animations that set her repertoire of painted imagery in motion, including SpiNN (2003), in which the hair rises from the women’s disappearing bodies and takes flight in a menacing swarm that invades an imperial Mughal court.

“I found the hair had this wonderful silhouette that, if you turned it around, could look like bats or birds—that was a very exciting moment in animation for me,” says Sikander.(click here to read more)


Collage: Art, Culture, Gender: Collage is a blog & on-kind magazine about art and culture. I review mostly work by women artists and other reviews/articles are written with a gendered perspective.