Shahzia Sikander, the Pakistani-American artist whose works delves into drawing, painting, animation, installation, performance, and video, has signed on to show with Sean Kelly Gallery in New York. She will figure prominently in the gallery’s booth at the Armory Show next week, with longer-range plans including a solo exhibition at the Chelsea gallery, to be presented in late 2017 or early 2018.

Kelly, whose program includes Marina Abramović, Jose Dávila, Tehching Hsieh, Joseph Kosuth, and Kehinde Wiley, among others, said, “What’s particularly interesting about Shahzia’s work is the way it reinvents a traditional medium that is centuries old and has a particular history and brings it into the 20th and 21st centuries in a dynamic way that is personal, polemicized, and politicized. She has achieved one of those rare acts of reinvention where she takes a storied and venerable history and adapts it for her own ends.”

At the Armory Show, open March 2–5 on the west side of Manhattan, the gallery will exhibit a video work and a large work on paper measuring around 3 by 7 feet. Sikander will also participate in a panel discussion there, on Saturday, titled “A Conversation on Tack, Whack and Quack,” with Patricia Cronin, Maura Reilly, and moderator Eric Shiner.

Other recent hallmarks for Sikander include large-scale commissioned works—a 66-foot mosaic and a 25-foot painting on multilayered glass—on permanent display in a building that houses the economics department at Princeton University and an animation work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where an animation piece by the artist features in recently renovated galleries for South Asian art.

About art made manifest in so many different media, Sikander told ARTnews, “All of the work is tied closely to the act of drawing. I think drawing is notational, very much about thinking and writing, and from there it can take on different directions of scale, space, medium, or light. Drawing is a beautiful investigative tool.”

Her work’s roots in Muslim and Hindu traditions of miniature painting earned Sikander the Religion and Arts Award from the American Academy of Religion in 2016. And it could have extra resonance now in a geopolitical scene roiled by recent ruptures.

“I did a piece called The Resurgence of Islam in 1999 that became very prescient post-September 11,” Sikander said, “but I think right now it’s actually much more relevant. The multivalence of the work has always found relevance.”


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