Shazia Sikander: Nemesis features drawings, jewel-like paintings as small as six by eight inches, a site-specific installation, and two new animations. Sikander’s wide-ranging inspirations include painting schools across both Hindu and Muslim cultures, with everything from American Pop culture and war to supermodels and fairy tales appearing in her complex paintings and animations. Her work teases the boundaries imposed by time, gender, religion, and culture.
This exhibition takes its title from one of the artist’s recent animated works of the same name. As the work unfolds, an elephant develops from the slow accretion of a cornucopia of smaller animals. The collaged, hybrid beast wrestles with a devil character, and eventually is destroyed in the fight. In the wake of the destruction caused by the insistent “nemesis,” we are reminded that the word is also the name of the Greek goddess of divine retribution. Indian gods, like Greek gods, are often capable of enacting severe punishments on their subjects even when generally considered good. Sikander’s works often highlight this dark side.
And in these times of political polarity, we are often forced to think in terms of friend verses foe.
Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Sikander studied miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore and received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (1999), the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (1998), and Deitch Projects, New York (1997), among others. She received the honorary artist award from the Pakistan Ministry of Culture and National Council of the Arts. Sikander currently lives and works in New York City.