Her Arts of Creative Substance

Shahzia Sikander
Image credits: libby rosof via Flickr

Shahzia Sikander is a New York City-based Pakistani-American artist of influence who works on an array of mediums such as drawing, painting, sculpture, mosaics, installation, printmaking and video animation. The versatile artist has received considerable critical acclaim and international recognition for her works.

Though she has dabbled and achieved excellence in various arts but she has achieved more renown as a painter. Most of the news on Shahzia Sikander is focused on her paintings, which often deserve much introspection.

However, if one asks what is the profession of Shahzia Sikander it would be apt to describe her as a visual artist. Shahzia was born in Lahore, in 1969; the age of Shahzia Sikander is 52 years.

About Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia, who got her BFA from the National College of Arts, in Lahore, Pakistan and followed it with an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in painting and printmaking, can be credited for introducing neo-miniature painting. Her painting amalgamates traditional Indo-Persian miniature painting with minimalist abstraction. She studied the techniques of Persian and Mughal Indo-Persian manuscript painting, when she was an undergraduate student in Lahore.

If one were to write a biography of Shahzia Sikander it is not possible without mentioning her contribution in the post-modern artistic tradition and her groundbreaking semi-autobiographical manuscript painting titled The Scroll where scenes of contemporary life in Pakistan were being shown.

While integrating the techniques and forms of traditional miniature painting, Shahzia Sikander has relied on the layering of images and metaphor to lend aesthetic potency to her work. Her attention to detail and formalism has facilitated in giving context to her miniature paintings. Shahzia Sikander’s varied forms of art works also provide insights on sexuality, cultural identity, colonial and postcolonial histories. Her arts also present global and feminist perspectives.

“The purpose is to point out, and not necessarily define,” Shahzia Sikander had once said of her work. “I find this attitude a useful way to navigate the complex and often deeply rooted cultural and sociopolitical stances that envelop us 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she added further.

Some of the esteemed locations where the works of Shahzia Sikander can be found include The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Philadelphia Museum of Art among others. She had several solo and group exhibitions where her works were being showcased. Shahzia Sikander: Ecstasy As Sublime, Heart As Vector (in 2016); Parallax (2017); Shahzia Sikander: Extraordinary Realities (2021) are some of her important solo exhibitions during the recent years.

The MacArthur Fellowship winner has achieved several awards and fellowship during her journey which include Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum(2006); Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Creative Arts Fellowship(2009); The Joan Mitchell Award(1998) among others.


What is she known for?

She is renowned as a visual artist who works in a variety of mediums. Her aesthetic creativity is being reflected in drawing, painting, sculpture, mosaics, installation, printmaking and video animation.

What materials does she use?

She often uses materials which are not much dissimilar to tissue paper perhaps because it facilitates her free-flowing style.

What media does Shahzia Sikander use?

She works in a variety of mediums such as drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, mosaics, printmaking and video animation.

What inspired her?

An artist of her stature must be having myriad inspirations, but the most prominent and well-known among her inspirations is miniature paintings.

In what city and country did Shahzia Sikander first study painting?

Her initiation into painting in a serious way began in Lahore, Pakistan as an undergraduate student in the National College of Arts, in Lahore.