Shahzia Sikander has been quarantined in her New York City apartment with her son, Alexander, who has been painting alongside her since he was two. For her #IntheStudio video Sikander shares their two temporary painting stations, showing the 9 foot painting they collaborated on for the Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC. “Art allows us to speak a common language and it also builds respect for each other’s space.” - @Shahziasikanderstudio
Sikander states, “Painting like music and writing is grounding, where one has to stay present in the moment. In this current state of uncertainty with the coronavirus pandemic, with the stay-at-home order, when new routines have to be set up and time feels suspended, art becomes meditation. When we have tools that allow us to express who we are, regardless of age, we learn how to manage our feelings, without rushing to move onto the next distraction. The slowing down of time externally has allowed me to reconnect with my detailed, methodical small drawings. I learned miniature painting techniques with the master painter Bashir Ahmed in Pakistan when I was in my late teens and it has stayed with me. It’s very much a part of my identity, a center to which I can return, again and again.”
Shahzia Sikander takes classical Indo-Persian miniature painting as the point of departure for her work. From premodern beginnings to contemporary connotations, it is precisely this longue durée history and its continuous capacity for reinvention that has sparked Sikander’s visually rich works across multiple media. Informed by South Asian, American, Feminist and Muslim perspectives, Sikander has developed a unique, critically charged approach to this time-honored medium – employing its continuous capacity for reinvention to interrogate ideas of language, trade and empire, and migration.