Shahzia Sikander

The process of painting in such a small scale allows Sikander to keep it all in control. This includes the process of staining paper steadily to give an even stain. Miniature painting is an old technique, but Sikander has adapted it and given it her own notion of perfection. There is a jewel-like translucence that comes though the paintings, and comes about with the technique.
The technique that Sikander uses is all about practice, as you can easily take off layers of paint. It is a very methodological and virtualistic way of learning how to paint, and Sikander loves the format and the sensibility of painting. Along with this  later comes composition, stylisation and self expression.
A lot of her works are deeply personal and come from her memory, including reading the Quran for the first time. Sikander found the text looked like it was transforming into movement. The beauty of the written word superseded everything else. This allows her to take on miniature painting to question development.
Skander now looks more towards the images that were happening due to Hinduism and Islam. A veil connects you to Muslim or women identity. This is terrifying as a woman, but culturally this is not Skander’s experience – her family were very supportive in everything that she has done.
Large paintings are the polar opposite of doing miniature projects. An installation involves the entire body with quick decisions and a certain energy. Through this, there is no intention of hiding anything, but rather the idea of unveiling and revealing.
Sikander always carries around sketches and notes wherever she goes. Every time she does a piece of work, she looks back at these to gain inspiration and words. After large scale works, she always comes back to miniature. Sikander finds this frustrating and time-consuming, but yet she always comes back to this.
I found the time and dedication that is spend on each piece, big or small, is mesmerising, especially the technique that Sikander uses for her miniature paintings. The use of the veil throughout her artwork is interesting, and I found that the religious connection made the veil motif much more powerful.

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