In 2003 the New Yorker published this short review on an exhibition of Shahzia Sikander’s work at Sikkema Jenkins & Co Gallery in New York: “The Pakistani-born painter of Indo-Persian miniatures kicks up, in digital animations on two monitors, her meticulous phantasmagorias of mingled Hindu, Muslim, and Christian motifs. The results are enchanting and spooky…. Sikander proves that miniatures are a live tradition, subject to cogent innovations. Her message is a fond plea for multiculturalism on the subcontinent, where competing visions of the sacred attend dangerous passions.”
Sikander was born in 1969 in Lahore, Pakistan, and in 1992 received a B.F.A. with an emphasis on traditional miniature painting from the National College of Arts in Lahore. She received an M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1995, and she then moved to Texas where she spent two years at the Glassell School of Art in Houston with support from a Core Fellowship. Her first one-person exhibition was at the Barbara Davis Gallery in Houston. In 1997 she moved to New York, returning to Texas briefly in 2001 for a residency in San Antonio sponsored by Artpace. She lives in New York City.
In 1997 Sikander was included in the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art and in a show at the Drawing Center in New York. Also in that year, she had a one-person exhibition at Deitch Projects in New York. In 1998 she had solo shows at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, and she was included in I Love New York, an exhibition at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany. In 1999 she had a solo show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, and her work was included in two important group shows: Art Worlds in Dialogueat the Museum Ludwig and The American Century at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She showed in 2000 in Greater New York at PS1 in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as part of a group exhibition for which she produced a banner to hang outside the museum’s entrance. Subsequent one-person shows were at the Asia Society in New York (2001), the San Diego Museum of Art (2004), and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut (2005).
Crown Point Press published Sikander’s portfolio of etchings, No Parking Anytime, in 2002 and two large-scale prints in 2012. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. She is represented by Sean Kelly Gallery, New York.
-Rachel Lyon, Crown Point Press