Uprooted Order I

Sikander’s ghostly figure merges in this work with Radha, a Hindu goddess and a gopi (consort of the god Krishna). Radha is often depicted in Hindu iconography as the god’s preferred lover. Here, however, Sikander presents Radha as an independent and powerful deity in her own right, excluding Krishna from the picture. A nude figure crouches at Radha’s legs and she holds to her chest a chalawa, a creature that typically cannot be confined.

By placing Radha on a lotus—a pedestal for many male deities in religions across Asia—Sikander shifts power to the female in all her multiplicity. The hand gesture illustrated at top is the yoni mudra, used to summon the energy of creation.

Shahzia Sikander (born 1969)
Uprooted Order I, 1997
Watercolor and gold paint on tea-stained wasli paper
Collection of A. G. Rosen
© Shahzia Sikander. Courtesy: the artist, Sean Kelly, New York and Pilar Corrias, London.