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4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale: Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life Ocula Report 4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale: Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life 15 Feb 2019 : Natalie King for Ocula

'Poems are like sentences that have taken their clothes off.' Marlene Dumas' poetic and sensual refrain accompanies her figurative watercolours on view in Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life, the fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) in the southern state of Kerala, India (12 December 2018–29 March 2019).Dumas' new series...

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Ellen Altfest Ocula Conversation Ellen Altfest

The paintings of Ellen Altfest are ethereal in their detail. Fields of minutiae come together as pulsating images; small brushstrokes of oil paint accumulate over a series of months to single out seemingly innocuous subjects, such as a hand resting atop patterned fabric (The Hand, 2011) or a deep green cactus reaching upwards from beneath a bed of...

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Colomboscope 2019: Cross Currents and Dissonance Ocula Report Colomboscope 2019: Cross Currents and Dissonance 8 Feb 2019 : Nada Raza for Ocula

On the rooftop of the former Rio Hotel complex in Colombo, it was hard to ignore the high-rise buildings, still under construction, blocking all but a sliver of what used to be an open view over Slave Island, once an island on Beira Lake that housed slaves in the 19th century, and now a downtown suburb. The hotel was set alight during the...

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Over a 50-year artistic career based in Baroda, Nilima Sheikh has unfolded personal and universal concerns with femininity through work that as often evokes timeless poetry as national politics. After studying painting at The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in the 1960s and 1970s, Sheikh's concerns entwined with those of other emerging artists who strove to situate figuration and narrative in a contemporary context. Drawing from and translating the vocabulary of Indian painting traditions, the formats of Sheikh's projects have ranged from small works reminiscent of Mughal and Rajput miniatures to vertical scrolls that take root in East Asian traditions.

'Songspace'—exhibited in 1995 at Gallery Chemould, Mumbai, and at Africus, the first Johannesburg Biennale—was a series of vertical, casein on canvas scrolls. The series' delicate, translucent colours intoned painterly and lyrical rhyme in its suggestions of an imagined landscape. Shamiana—erected in 1996 for the 2nd Asia-Pacific Triennial at Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane—transcended specifics of time, space and narrative with tempera canvasses hung beneath a painted canopy.

Conversations with Traditions: Nilima Sheikh and Shahzia Sikander at Asia Society, New York, in 2001, exhibited the artists' distinct engagements with pre-modern Indian painting. Included was Sheikh's landmark series 'When Champa Grew Up' (1984), which narrated the tragic life story of a woman murdered for her dowry by her husband's family. Arising from her lasting interest in narration and writing, Sheikh offered the lyrics from Gujarati oral folk songs as accompanying texts for the series.

In The Country Without a Post Office: Reading Agha Shahid Ali—a solo exhibition at Chemould in 2003 that took its name from an anthology of Ali's writing—Sheikh presented a visualisation of poetics and politics. The artist's employ of Ali's poetry—focused on the contemporary conflict in Kashmir—reflected on the inherent conflicts between aesthetics and trauma. As in some of Sheikh's earlier work, these paintings employed the syntax of free verse, with compositional narratives developing not from linear descriptions but from the flexibility of independent layered readings.

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Featured Artworks

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Of Sohrab and Rustom by Nilima Sheikh contemporary artwork Nilima SheikhOf Sohrab and Rustom, 2018 Tempera on Sanganer Vasli paper
48 x 33 cm
Hanart TZ Gallery
Departure 2 by Nilima Sheikh contemporary artwork Nilima SheikhDeparture 2, 2018 Tempera on Sanganer Vasli paper
48 x 33 cm
Hanart TZ Gallery
Blood on the Road 2 by Nilima Sheikh contemporary artwork Nilima SheikhBlood on the Road 2, 2018 Tempera on Sanganer Vasli paper
33 x 48 cm
Hanart TZ Gallery
Cargo 2 by Nilima Sheikh contemporary artwork Nilima SheikhCargo 2, 2018 Tempera on Sanganer Vasli paper
48 x 33 cm
Hanart TZ Gallery
Dream at Daybreak 3 by Nilima Sheikh contemporary artwork Nilima SheikhDream at Daybreak 3, 2018 Tempera on Sanganer Vasli paper
48 x 33 cm
Hanart TZ Gallery
Erased Homes by Nilima Sheikh contemporary artwork Nilima SheikhErased Homes, 2018 Tempera on Sanganer Vasli paper
33 x 48 cm
Hanart TZ Gallery
Felled 2 by Nilima Sheikh contemporary artwork Nilima SheikhFelled 2, 2018 Tempera on Sanganer Vasli paper
33 x 48 cm
Hanart TZ Gallery
Journeys 2 by Nilima Sheikh contemporary artwork Nilima SheikhJourneys 2, 2018 Tempera on Sanganer Vasli paper
48 x 33 cm
Hanart TZ Gallery

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, From the Collection at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
Closed
15 May–30 June 2018 Group Exhibition From the Collection Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
Contemporary art exhibition, Nilima Sheikh, Lines of Flight at Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong
Closed
22 March–30 June 2018 Nilima Sheikh Lines of Flight Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong

In Ocula Magazine

Nilima  Sheikh Ocula Conversation Nilima Sheikh Artist

Nilima Sheikh says it was a different time then. Though always true, what she is describing is the specificity of her life as an artist in India. Born in New Delhi in 1945, Sheikh trained in Baroda, where she now lives. Her paintings contain world lexicons, written in a language she has developed over the last four decades. Integrating source...

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Report: documenta 14 in Kassel Ocula Report Report: documenta 14 in Kassel 7 Jul 2017 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

Two women are next to each other in the intimacy of a bedroom. The elder is in a wheelchair, whereas the younger sits, holding a glass in her hands, on a bed covered with beautifully patterned blankets. The two women, whose gentle faces look alike, chat tenderly while exchanging caresses, their eyes full of life, of joy and sadness. They are mother...

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Collateral Gains: Delhi focus Ocula Report Collateral Gains: Delhi focus 6 Feb 2016 : Georgina Maddox for Ocula

Plugging in to the excitement created around the India Art Fair, which premiers on 28 January 2016 at the NSIC exhibition grounds in Okhla, New Delhi, exhibition spaces in the capital are hosting some of their best shows. There are private galleries presenting solo exhibitions featuring contemporary and relatively younger artists, such as Sumakshi...

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In Related Press

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Art Basel 2018 Round-Up Reports Buoyant Sales At Core Event Related Press Art Basel 2018 Round-Up Reports Buoyant Sales At Core Event Artlyst : 18 June 2018

Art Basel Switzerland which is always an important barometer in the art market has reported that some of the world's premier galleries experienced remarkable sales across all levels of the market.The fair in Basel closed on Sunday, June 17 2018, amid reports of significant sales to private collections and institutions by galleries across all...

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RELATIVE VALUE: THE FIRST COUPLE OF BARODA Related Press RELATIVE VALUE: THE FIRST COUPLE OF BARODA Mumbai Mirror : 3 December 2017

Last month saw the opening of the veteran artist Nilima Sheikh's Terrain: Carrying Across, Leaving Behind at Chemould Prescott Road in Fort. The exhibition comprises a single body of work — sixteen paper scrolls mounted on cloth, painted in casein tempera, and enclosing an octagonal space. 'Inscribed in these panels are stories from folklore...

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A house with many windows Related Press A house with many windows The Hindu : 1 December 2017

Through her latest work, Terrain: Carrying Across, Leaving Behind, artist Nilima Sheikh offers the viewer a space—an enclosure that she describes as 'meditative yet vulnerable'. This single body of work, especially created for the Documenta 14 exhibition, held earlier this year in Kassel, Germany, is an eight panel retro verso structure (with...

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Nilima Sheikh uses textual codes to convey the interiority of her life on canvas Related Press Nilima Sheikh uses textual codes to convey the interiority of her life on canvas Architectural Digest : 30 November 2017

Nilima Sheikh's exhibition Terrain: Carrying Across, Leaving Behind at Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai is a summation of the artist's brilliance. She combines art historical references and simple narratives as she inscribes in her panels stories from folklore to present times.

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