Shahzia Sikander at the Maxxi

Whenever I find myself in a new art exhibit I can’t help but feel this immense level of excitement anticipating how my mind will expand with new images and ideas. No art exhibit is the same as the last, and living in New York and Rome has spoiled me with some powerful – even life-affecting – “art watching”.

A pair of shows at Rome’s Maxxi Museum this summer brought back this sensation. Here, I’ll write about Shahzia Sikander’s show – and in another article, I’ll describe the Italian photography exhibit.

Shahzia Sikander: Ecstasy as Sublime, Heart as Vector immediately drew me with its title. Sikander is a Pakistani artist who expresses herself in several mediums – which she also combines: drawings, paintings and videos. The show comprised a beautiful mix of tradition-inspired Indo-Persian miniature paintings, large scale, colorful animation, and  abstract painted and printed wall panels depicting themes of cultural and political boundaries.

Marigold yellows and lush dark greens combine with simple animations to tell the stories of a new political ideal. Sikander’s work was magnanimous in the aspect that it allowed audiences to view a deeper understanding of the changing image of Islam in the contemporary world.

While Sikander’s animations were fascinating, I was mesmerized by her murals and painted sets. She is an artist after my own heart, with her rich layers, intense but harmonious colors, intricate details in an abstract context. My favorite piece from the show is featured below with it’s unique intermingling of easy water-like endurances combined with the simplistic beauty of minimal floral details.

2016-06-29 13.19.50-3

Sikander’s unique take on artwork led to 30 of her pieces and a unique show layout in the Maxxi Museum. It is always a joy to see not only an artist making an impact upon the world with informative art, but to also see a strong female leading the way. For more on Shazia’s work you can visit her website or view her upcoming showings.