Spaces in Between

This is one of the earliest works that combined Sikander’s new gestural vocabulary with the precision of traditional manuscript painting. She freely applied gouache to teastained wasli paper, joining abstract shapes with what could be seen as a multilimbed creature or a shredded veil with an embedded eye. The color white references the ground layer to which color pigments are added in manuscript painting. Below, the delicately rendered, spiral-horned antelope could have come out of a manuscript illustration. Both creatures emphasize the gaze. Sikander asks, “Where lies the power, in the eye of the beholder or in the art itself?”

Shahzia Sikander (born 1969)
Spaces in Between, 1995
Gouache and graphite on tea-stained wasli paper
Private collection, Göttingen, Germany
© Shahzia Sikander. Courtesy: the artist, Sean Kelly, New York and Pilar Corrias, London.