Pakistani-American artist who works in drawing, painting, installations, performance and video, MacArthur Fellow
Shahzia Sikander is a Pakistani-American artist best known for contemporizing the traditional Indo-Persian discipline of miniature painting. Sikander took up the craft-based practice of miniature painting in Pakistan in the late 1980s amidst the oppressive climate of Zia-ul-Haq's military regime at a time when the medium was unpopular for that generation's youth. Furthermore, miniature painting was then largely unknown to the global contemporary art world, as the Euro-American canon dominated the field of painting. The region's contemporary art production and geopolitical conditions have since entered the global purview.
Sikander's work throughout the 90s launched a rigorous inquiry and deconstruction of miniature painting from within the canon of its historical representation, beginning with her breakthrough work, The Scroll (1990). By subsequently engaging the personal and the private and deftly subverting the patriarchal thematic and the non-personal historical representations within the Indo-Persian miniature painting tradition, Sikander's work catalyzed a movement to upend gender-specific assumptions while contributing fresh feminist discourse from multiple perspectives including Muslim, South Asian and American. Sikander's innovative conceptual and formal expansion on this traditional genre has helped launch a major resurgence of work with miniature at her alma mater, the National College of Arts in Lahore and throughout the international arena, inspiring transnational attention on the idiom as a form of contemporary expression. Her work includes digital animation, video, performance, large-scale mural, installation, projection, and works on paper.
Select solo exhibitions: "Shahzia Sikander: Ecstasy As Sublime, Heart As Vector", MAXXI- Museo Nazionale Delle Arti Del XXI Secolo, Rome, Italy, (2016-2017) "Apparatus of Power" Asia Society, Hong Kong, (2016); "Gopi-Contagion", Times Square's Electronic Billboards, New York (Oct 2015); "Shahzia Sikander", Tufts University Museum, Boston (2015); "Parallax", Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain (2015); "Shahzia Sikander: Parallax", Bildmuseet, Umea and Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen (2014); "Parallax" and "The Last Post", Linda Pace Foundation, San Antonio (2014 & 2012); "The Fertile Crescent" at Douglas Library, Institute for Women and Art, Rutgers University, NJ (2012); "The Exploding Company Man and Other Abstractions", Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute and Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston (2011); "Authority as Approximation", Para/Site, Hong Kong (2009); "Shahzia Sikander Selects: Works from the Permanent Collection", Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York (2009); "Interstitial: 24 Faces and the 25th Frame", daadgalerie, Berlin (2008); "Intimate Ambivalence", IKON, Birmingham (2008) "Shahzia Sikander", Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2007); "Shahzia Sikander" Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2007), "51 Ways of Looking", Miami Art Museum, Miami (2005); "Shahzia Sikander: Flip Flop", The San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego (2004); "Nemesis", Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs and Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield (2004); "Acts of Balance", Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2000); "Shahzia Sikander- Directions", Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington-DC (1999); "Shahzia Sikander", Renaissance Society, Chicago (1998); "Shahzia Sikander", Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Kansas City (1998); "Murals and Miniatures", Deitch Projects, New York (1997)
Her work is among the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Whitney Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Palazzo Grassi in Venice, the Kiran-Nader Museum in India, MAXXI National Museum of 21st-Century Arts, Rome, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, the Princeton Art Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art among others.
Sikander is the recipient of notable grants, fellowships and awards such as Asia Society's award for significant contribution to contemporary art, the 2013 inaugural Medal of Art from the US State Department, the DAAD Berliner, the Medal of Excellence from Government and State of Pakistan, the Otis and Samuel Goldwyn Foundation's Jennifer Howard Coleman award, the Louis Comfort Tiffany award, the Joan Mitchell award and the MacArthur "genius" grant.