Elusive Reality


Two female figures meet at the center of this work. The seated woman is inspired by Deccani painting traditions that originated in Central India in the 1500s. The overlaid, upside-down portrait is of Sharmila Desai, an Indian dancer with whom Sikander worked closely in New York. Desai sometimes performed in spaces installed with Sikander’s drawings. Sikander photographed the dances and then incorporated select postures into her paintings.

Shahzia Sikander (born 1969)
Elusive Reality, 1989–2000
Watercolor and collage on tea-stained wasli paper
Collection of Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley, New York
© Shahzia Sikander. Courtesy: the artist, Sean Kelly, New York and Pilar Corrias, London.