Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander
Witness (original vision for the Madison Square Park sculpture, 18 feet, milled foam, steel and glass mosaic)
Gouache, watercolor, graphite, and gold leaf on paper.
15 x 12 inches (38.1 x 30.5 cm)
Purchase on the Manley Family Fund.
© Shahzia Sikander. Courtesy: the artist, Sean Kelly, New York and Pilar Corrias, London.

Sikander is a Pakistani American artist who since the late 1980s has engaged and updated the tradition of Central and South-Asian manuscript painting. She is at the front of a movement that is sometimes referred to as "neo-miniature" painting, though she is critical of the word miniature for its colonial underpinnings. Sikander works in a variety of mediums, but primarily on paper, where she often combines traditional motifs and materials (like vegetable color and tea), with contemporary feminist and post-colonial commentary. This drawing is a preparatory study for a sculpture Sikander created on the theme of women and justice, which was installed in 2023 in Madison Square Park. The meticulous style and use of gold leaf recall Sikander's interest in the tradition of Indo-Persian painting. The subjects are allegorical figures, with attributes frequently found in Sikander's earlier paintings, such as roots instead of feet to signify self-rootedness, and hair braided to resemble ram's horns, a symbol of strength. The figure wears a decorative jabot at the neckline, referring to the lace collar worn by justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to mark the feminization of the black judicial robes.

The artist; from whom acquired by the Morgan.
Artist page: