MCA Sydney

MCA NORTH, The Rocks, 140 George Street

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MCA presents the eloquent and intricately beautiful work of Shahzia Sikander

Sydney, Australia: This summer, discover the eloquent and intricately beautiful work of Shahzia Sikander at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Born in Pakistan, Sikander studied painting in the Indo-Persian miniaturist tradition, before relocating to New York in 1993 where further studies saw her develop a distinctive iconography referencing history, mythology and popular culture.

Curated by MCA Senior Curator Rachel Kent, the MCA exhibition will include a major site specific work which the artist will create directly onto the gallery wall. The work will be completed by the artist over a two-week period in the lead up to the opening of the exhibition on 27 November.

Sikander’s work is characterised by its precision of line and delicacy of touch: from tightly structured miniature paintings to larger, more loosely formed watercolours in which pigments stain and bleed into one another. Historical tradition meets contemporary interpretation, incorporating both figurative and abstract elements.

Since 2001 Sikander has also worked with digital animation, setting her miniatures into physical motion. Images break apart and reform in new hybrid permutations, while sound adds a further dimension.

Repetition of form and the overlaying of imagery is a recurrent feature of Sikander’s paintings and watercolours. These themes are likewise illustrated in her recent three-dimensional installations which incorporate suspended veils of semi-transparent paper upon which fragments merge in and out of one another.

Sikander was recently awarded the prestigious MacArthur Award, from the Chicago-based Macarthur Foundation. The Award is given “to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits”. Sikander was recognised by the Macarthur Award for “merging the traditional South Asian art of miniature painting with contemporary forms and styles to create visually compelling, resonant works on multiple scales and in a dazzling array of media”.

Shahzia Sikander runs at the MCA from 27 November 2007 until 17 February 2008. Shahzia Sikander will discuss her work in conversation with MCA Senior Curator Rachel Kent on Wednesday 28 November. For further information on special talks and events associated with this exhibition visit

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Shahzia Sikander