Having studied miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Shahzia Sikander beautifully reinvents the classical technique using a variety of mediums. Her delicate drawings and her meticulous brushwork, sometimes coupled with digital manipulation, create fantastical juxtapositions of tradition, gender roles and religion that express the push and pull of her dual American-Pakistani identity.
Sikander was born in Lahore in 1969. Like with fellow Pakistani artists of her generation, Aisha Khalid
and Imran Qureshi
, she studied classical Indo-Persian miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore, making her part of Pakistan’s “neo-miniature” movement. She wasn’t long for other shores. Soon after earning her B.F.A. in 1992, she left her native Pakistan to attend the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, in Providence, earning her M.F.A. there in 1995. She has remained in the United States, expanding her work meanwhile to include video, animation, mural and other media.
Her work has been described as “maximalist miniatures” by ARTnews
. Sikander says any reinvention on her part wasn’t so intentional. “I didn't set out with the aim to subvert, let alone reinvent, a tradition,” she has said, “those boundaries became blurred simply through my engagement with miniature painting.”
She has enjoyed tremendous success across the United States and internationally. She has had solo exhibitions at various galleries and museums around the world, including The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, at Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris in New York, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., Deitch Projects in New York, the San Diego Museum of Art and many others. Her work has appeared in international biennials at Venice, The Whitney, Seville and Istanbul, and in major group shows at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, The Asia Society in New York, The New York Musem of Modern Art’s P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia and others.
She lives and works in New York.