Who’s Veiled Anyway?


Sikander explains this painting’s layered commentary on gender and religion: “The notion of the veil, despite its cliché, persists in defining the Muslim female in the West. This protagonist appears to be a veiled female, yet on close inspection one can see that the stock character is a male polo player common to South and Central Asian manuscript illustrations. Painting over the male figure with chalky white lines was my way to make androgyny the subject. One could read it as a comment on patriarchal, colonial, and imperial histories. It was also a means of tracing my own relationship with the largely male-dominated lineage of manuscript painting.”

Shahzia Sikander (born 1969)
Who’s Veiled Anyway?, 1997
Watercolor and gouache on tea-stained wasli paper
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Drawing Committee, 97.83.1
© Shahzia Sikander. Courtesy: the artist, Sean Kelly, New York and Pilar Corrias, London.