One of the most influential artists working today, Pakistani-American Shahzia Sikander is widely celebrated for expanding and subverting pre-modern and classical Central and South-Asian miniature painting traditions and launching the form known today as neo-miniature. By bringing traditional and historical practice into dialogue with contemporary international art practices, Sikander’s multivalent and investigative work examines colonial archives to readdress orientalist narratives in Western art history from a feminist perspective. Sikander’s paintings, video animations, mosaics and sculpture explore gender roles and sexuality, cultural identity, racial narratives, and colonial and postcolonial histories through a blending of traditional motifs and contemporary imagery.
Sikander is widely celebrated for subverting Central and South-Asian miniature painting traditions and launching the form known today as neo-miniature. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Sikander earned a B.F.A. in 1991 from the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore. Sikander’s breakthrough work, The Scroll, 1989–90, received national critical acclaim in Pakistan and brought international recognition to this medium within contemporary art practices in the 1990s. Sikander got her M.F.A. at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1995. Over the subsequent twenty plus years, Sikander’s practice - which has expanded to include paintings, media work and most recently, sculpture, has been pivotal in showcasing art of the South Asian diaspora as a contemporary American tradition. Solo exhibitions include the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in Texas; the Morgan Library and Museum in New York; the RISD Museum in Providence, Rhode Island; Jesus College in Cambridge, United Kingdom; the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney; the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., among many others. Sikander has also been featured in group exhibitions at international venues, including the Sharjah Biennial 11; the 8th and 13th Istanbul Biennials; the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC; the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo; and the 54th Venice Biennale in Italy, among others. Sikander's work is in many major public collections including the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, the Brooklyn Museum, the Deutsche Bank collection, Germany, the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection, United Arab Emirates, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Sikander has been the recipient of many notable awards, including most recently the Pollock Prize for Creativity in 2023, the Fukuoka Arts and Culture Prize in 2022, the Asia Society Award for Significant Contribution to Contemporary Art in 2015, a Medal of Art by the U.S. Department of State in 2012, and a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006. In conjunction with her traveling exhibition, an extensive monograph examining Sikander’s work from 1987 to 2003, entitled Extraordinary Realities, was published in 2021. Sikander's major new outdoor project, an 18 foot and an 8 foot bronze female sculpture, are currently on view in Madison Square Park and on the roof of the Appellate Courthouse in Manhattan, till June 2023.
Sikander currently lives and works in New York.
Neil Koenig, former BBC Producer/Director and now ideaXme board advisor interviews artist Shahzia Sikander.
“Shahzia Sikander: Extraordinary Realities” | An Overview, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, March 25, 2022
In Conversation: Shahzia Sikander NA and Chrissie Iles, National Academy of Design, February 24, 2022
Art+ | Mapping Queerness: Gender and Sexuality in South Asian Diasporic Art, Asian Society, February 23, 2022
PBS NewsHour, Sep 24, 2021.
Shahzia Sikander: Extraordinary Realities at the The Morgan Library & Museum
Shahzia Sikander: Unbound – Khilvat Series
Julie Mehretu and Shahzia Sikander In Conversation, Moderated by Gayatri Gopinath
In conversation: Shahzia Sikander and Glenn Lowry, June 24, 2021
In conversation: Shahzia Sikander and Jeffrey Grove, December 3, 2020
Breaking Binaries: Thinking About Art in the Covid Age - Shahzia Sikander and Vishakha Desai, Pera Müzsei
Shahzia Sikander in conversation with Sadia Abbas and Ayad Akhtar, September 30, 2020
On the occasion of her forthcoming exhibition, Weeping Willows, Liquid Tongues, which will take place at the gallery from November 5 through December 19, 2020, Shahzia Sikander will be in conversation with Sadia Abbas, writer and professor at Rutgers University-Newark and the Stavros Niarchos Center for Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University and Ayad Akhtar, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright and author. They will discuss Sikander’s exhibition, Sadia Abbas' forthcoming publication, Shahzia Sikander: Extraordinary Realities and Ayad Akhtar’s much acclaimed new book Homeland Elegies.
The Art of Independence: Visions of the Future in India and Pakistan
A conference held at at the Ashmolean Museum on October 12, 2017 and the Courtauld Institute of Art on October 13, 2017, convened by Faisal Devji and Mallica Kumbera Landrus (University of Oxford) with Deborah Swallow and Zehra Jumabhoy (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London). The conference was co-organised by the Ashmolean Museum, the Courtauld Institute of Art—Sackler Research Forum, the Oxford Centre for Global History and the Asian Studies Centre of St Antony’s College, and co-funded by the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development of Somerville College, the John Fell Fund, the Radhakrishnan Fund, the University Engagement Programme (funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), and the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities.
Day 2, Futures Lost and Found: Citizenship and Contemporary Art (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London) Shahzia Sikander in conversation with Faisal Devji
Shahzia Sikander: Disruption as Rapture, Philadelphia Museum of Art, June 15, 2017
Drawing in Glass: Shahzia Sikander at Princeton University, Princeton University Art Museum, May 22, 2017
MAXXI Museum, Shahzia Sikander: Ecstasy As Sublime, Heart As Vector, July 12, 2016
Shahzia Sikander on Persian Miniature Painting, The Artist Project, Metropolitan Museum of Art, September 15, 2015
Shahzia Sikander at Sharjah Biennial 11, Artist to Artist, Art 21, October 11, 2013
SHORT: Shahzia Sikander: "The Last Post", Art 21 "Exclusive", January 25, 2013
Shahzia Sikander at the 13th Istanbul Biennial, Artist to Artist, Art 21, October 25, 2013