Pleasure Pillars


The array of archetypes portrayed here reveals the range of sources that Sikander looked to as she celebrated female sensuality and desire. Her central self-portrait with ram’s horns conjoins fragmented statues inspired by the Roman goddess Venus and a South and Southeast Asian celestial dancer. Above, two images of destruction threaten this scene of unrestrained pleasure: a fighter jet, which Sikander added in the aftermath of 9/11, and a winged, hybrid creature that seems to shoot fire from its hands.

Shahzia Sikander (born 1969)
Pleasure Pillars, 2001
Watercolor on tea-stained wasli paper
Collection of Amita and Purnendu Chatterjee
© Shahzia Sikander. Courtesy: the artist, Sean Kelly, New York and Pilar Corrias, London.