The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Shahzia Sikander, 51 Ways of Looking, 2004, Graphite on paper Courtesy of the artist and Brent Sikkema Gallery, New York
SHAHZIA SIKANDER: NEMESIS September 19, 2004 – January 5, 2005
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT 06877
tel: 203.438.4519 www.aldrichart.org
The Aldrich Contemporary is pleased to present Shahzia Sikander: Nemesis, an exhibition of new animation, works on paper, and site-specific wall painting by the Pakistani-born artist, from September 19, 2004, through January 5, 2005. Nemesis is organized by Jessica Hough, Aldrich associate curator, in collaboration with Ian Berry, curator of The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. This exhibition has been made possible in part by the Islamic World Arts Initiative, a program of Arts International generously supported by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.
Born in the multicultural city of Lahore, Sikander grew up equally conversant with international pop culture and her country’s rich heritage of Indo-Persian miniature painting. Cliche miniature images were “abundant as gift items everywhere, saturating the tourist market,” she recalls. “My initial feeling… was that it was kitsch, but I saw the potential of subversion.” Sikander is engaged with miniature painting as practitioner and lay scholar, freely mingling Hindu and Muslim iconography with contemporary Western elements.
Animation Nemesis features the debut of the digital animation Pursuit Curve. Taking its name from a term in mathematics used to describe the path an object takes when chasing another object, Pursuit Curve is inspired by landscape and its connection to human history, a subject which pervades this exhibition. One image transforms into the next, in a journey intended to lead the viewer along the artist’s creative trajectory. The colorful and rich imagery is accompanied by a soundtrack composed by David Abir, which follows and heightens the emotional moods in the work.
Works on Paper
The exhibition includes a suite of fifty-one graphite and ink works on paper, entitled 51 Ways of Looking, inspired by the under-drawing miniature painters have historically employed beneath their paintings. Their modest scale suggests their link to the Indo-Persian tradition of paintings made to illustrate stories and events in books.
Sikander created a site-specific wall painting titled Duality, which greets visitors in the Museum’s atrium. The heads of five turbaned men are arranged in a pinwheel shape, their turbans appearing to grow and morph into elaborate rock formations, evidencing man’s inseparability from the landscape.
Sikander collaborated with contemporary Indian dancer Sharmila Desai to produce a performance in conjunction with the exhibition. Desai, a member of a family of legendary dancers who is inspired by classical Indian dance and yoga, performed an original eleven-minute piece on a mat hand painted by Sikander. In the video documentation, Desai’s long hair reiterates the painted lines as she navigates the space, and at points her entire body becomes conflated with Sikander’s painted image, confirming the commonalities the artists find in each other’s work.
About the artist
Sikander has been featured in numerous exhibitions at museums and galleries around the U.S., including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., Art Pace in San Antonio, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in Kansas City, San Diego Art Museum, and Brent Sikkema Gallery in New York. Her works are in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
In addition to Nemesis, The Aldrich also features the group exhibitions Bottle: Contemporary Art and Vernacular Tradition; and David Opdyke: 2004 Aldrich Emerging Artist Award Recipient, new and recent work by the artist in the Museum’s Leir Gallery. Other exhibition projects include: Aldrich at the Movies; Michael Rees: Large and Moving; and Jonathan Seliger: Politeness Counts. The exhibitions will remain on view through January 5, 2005.
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The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, located at 258 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT, is renowned as a national leader for its presentation of outstanding new art, the cultivation of emerging artists, and its innovation in museum education. Regular Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 12 noon to 5 pm. For more information, please call 203.438.4519 or visit www.aldrichart.org.