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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Borrowing from and translating the vocabulary of Indian painting traditions, Nilima Sheikh's artworks have ranged from small paintings reminiscent of Mughal and Rajput miniatures, to vertical scrolls rooted in East Asian customs. Over her 50-year career, the Baroda-based artist has woven into her work her concerns with femininity, tradition, violence, poetry and national politics.

After studying painting at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in the 1960s and 1970s, Sheikh's interests aligned with those of other emerging artists who strove to situate figuration and narrative in a contemporary context. Indicative of this concern, Sheikh's '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 their suggestions of an imagined landscape. Comprising of six double-sided tempera-painted canvasses hung beneath a painted canopy, Shamiana was erected in 1996 for the 2nd Asia-Pacific Triennial at Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane and alluded to the temporary tents erected during some Indian weddings.

In 2001, the exhibition Conversations with Traditions: Nilima Sheikh and Shahzia Sikander at Asia Society, New York, exhibited the artists' distinct engagements with pre-modern Indian painting. Included was Sheikh's landmark series 'When Champa Grew Up' (1984), which described 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 Gallery 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 citing of Ali's poetry, which 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 and layered readings.

Sheikh lives and works in Baroda, India.

Ocula | 2019
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Featured Artworks

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Sarhad 2 by Nilima Sheikh contemporary artwork Nilima SheikhSarhad 2, 2014 Tempera on sanganer paper
21 1/2 x 62 inches
Gallery Espace
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

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

Represented By

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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