Shahzia Sikander’s re-examination of the genre of Indo-Persian miniature paintings and recontextualization of Indian and Pakistani imagery continues at Artpace. For her residency, she presents a new work on paper and the result of her first experiments with digital video.
In the middle of the darkened gallery are two parallel walls that form a corridor, each with a glowing work of art. One is a new drawing by Sikander, a miniature with figuration and abstraction. Under a precise theatrical light, the illustration shines, highlighting its intimate, precious scale.
Opposite it is a small rear-projected screen displaying an animated montage of digital reproductions of the artist’s previous work. Silently fading into each other, the pictures create layers of Sikander’s visual vocabulary. Decorative surfaces dissolve into figure studies of a dancer; transparent paper morphs into detailed drawings of architectural details.
Sikander’s work has consistently explored how montage and collage can represent multiple facets of cultural identity. Whether juxtaposing Hindu and Muslim traditions or highlighting women’s physical strengths, the artist is keenly interested in how image and content flow into one another. In her first foray with moving images, Sikander examines the medium itself, exploiting video’s fluid nature to create an animated, non-linear space. Despite its small scale, this new work relates specifically to the artist’s previous room-sized installation work, where wall paintings are painted over and drawings on tissue reveal and conceal images and surface.
Sikander’s precise technique and engaging iconography lend themselves to examinations of power and control. The artist looks to the tensions between history and modernity, between East and West. Through Sikander’s work, the viewer looks to the future while revisiting the past.