Artist Shahzia Sikander: My entire practice examines the provenance and cannon of Indo-Parisian miniature painting. While playing with its context, I see this work very much in the same vein. There’s a lot of play on image within image, multiple meanings, forms that symbolize one thing while they might mean another. Sort of a playful attitude where it might imply a story, but never really provides any narrative.
Narrator: Starting from the top, look down to the third row and the fourth image to the right. It has tiny black forms emanating out of a figure. These are silhouettes of hair or shapes of the female Gopi character, the female lover of Krishna often portrayed in Indian miniatures. You’ll see Sikander’s depiction of a Gopi in the fourth row, third from the left.
** Shahzia Sikander**: And so when I isolate and multiply they may transform into bats or floating helmets or whimsical forms and lose their actual relationship to the Gopi. So the relationship to miniature painting might not be very obvious when you look at the work, but it definitely is still informing the way I use drawing as a tool. I see the forms in the work as being buoyant, floating, maybe in a temporary state of being both static and moving at the same time. For example, the separate grid-like unit forms that this work encompasses can be reorganized every time. And this is really about creating a gap or a distance or a break. And it’s sort of a metaphor for an investigation or exploration of spaces—the in-between spaces, whether they are political, transgressive or ideal or the space of the fantastical or subliminal.