A Miniaturist Goes Large

Photography by Casey Kelbaugh, June 17, 2021

Molly Crabapple in the New York Review of Books:

The first thing you see when you walk into “Extraordinary Realities,” Pakistani-American artist Shahzia Sikander’s major retrospective at the Morgan Library, is an Indian Devata dancer, gently resting her knee on the shoulder of Aphrodite. Cast in bronze, nearly life-sized, Promiscuous Intimacies (2020) is Sikander’s first sculpture, and her two women only have eyes for each other. Aphrodite toys with the Devata’s necklace. The Devata curves around Aphrodite like a snake.

The two sex bombs, archetypal respectively for East and West, expose the inanity of the categories. These avatars might be citizens of a single world—one where Alexander’s armies marched through the monsoon-soaked Punjab, where the inhabitants of the Indian city of Nysa claimed Dionysus as their founder, and where a statue of Lakshmi is hidden beneath the lava of Pompeii. Their separation only made sense according to the logic of newer empires. Here in the Morgan Library, they are wrapped together in love. Supremely self-confident and disdainful of all borders, the pair are the perfect guardians for a show in which Sikander blows open the form of miniature painting.

More here.