This was Shahzia Sikander’s first major solo exhibition in the UK and largest to-date in Europe. Intrigued by her country’s tradition of miniature
painting and its consequent reduction to kitsch for tourist consumption in the mid 1980s, the artist pioneered an experimental approach to the genre. In early work presented at Ikon, invaluable as a context for the consideration of new and recent pieces, Sikander thus recasts an artistic tradition with present-day subject matter for reinterpretation, incorporating both figurative and abstract elements.
This exhibition focused primarily on Sikander’s work from the last two years, much shown for the first time, setting new large-scale gouaches and a wall drawing made specifically for Ikon, alongside a suite of portraits of novices and monks resulting from recent travels to Laos. The latter are detailed, intimate graphite drawings, establishing an interesting conceptual parallel between the monks’ changing lives under the influence of tourism and the artist’s ongoing preoccupations – contemplation of our ever-changing world where issues of mutability and transformation are crucial.
A selection of pieces from The Sinxay Series including The Kingdom of Flowers and The Land of he Nagas (2006) derive from the Sinxay text, an epic devotional poem of Laos with an estimated 6,000 verses, surviving through oral tradition and recitation, evolving through successivegenerations. States of transition are again revealed as ongoing themes in Sikander’s work, as a layering of images allows motifs to ‘morph’, defying the possibility of single, stable representation and meaning. Sikander sustains a sense of flux and subversiveness whether in a painting on paper or a digital animation with sound.
Please download the exhibition interpretation guide for this exhibition.
Shahzia Sikander Exhibition Guide (PDF 42kb)
A fully illustrated catalogue, produced in collaboration with DAAD in Berlin, including installation photographs, will be available in soon.
Intimate Ambivalence was supported by the Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust.