Miniature in Mughal Style: Imaginary Man

Sikander made this drawing as an exercise in traditional manuscript painting, employing the practice passed on to her by Bashir Ahmad, her professor at the NCA. The method starts with preparing the paper. Dampened cotton-fiber sheets are layered together with wheat-starch paste and a preservative. After the paper is pressed and dried, both sides are burnished with a sea shell, creating a smooth, luminous surface. For this work, the paper was also stained with several applications of tea. Using a brush fitted with only a few hairs, Sikander carefully outlined the image. She then applied layers of transparent wash and gold leaf. Like several other works in the exhibition, this painting was completed over a number of years—typical of Sikander’s process then and now.

Shahzia Sikander (born 1969)
Miniature in Mughal Style: Imaginary Man, 1991–92
Ink and gold leaf on tea-stained wasli paper
Collection of Anu and Arjun Aggarwal
© Shahzia Sikander. Courtesy: the artist, Sean Kelly, New York and Pilar Corrias, London.