Saira Sheikh

There is the image and then there are other images, dimensions, concepts, that can be recalled to memory because of connections, associations and contexts. The titles of works help make these connections. They make tangible that which is realized, but exists in the realm of the unconscious. Articulating some aspect of it in the verbal language allows awareness and in turn could further implications.

Working with my own image as a prototype, as sample population is due to the consciousness that one looks at everything through the lens of one’s own self. So even the broadest, most general and universal issues would be the reflection of one’s own experience and outlook of life. Not strictly autobiographical, but certainly stemming from that. The works narrate the experience of existing/living and being brought up a female in a society where conflicts between gender, religion and culture, and histories lead to a claustrophobic existence.

The miniature format, which exploits the flatness of the paper and the image to subterfuge the multiple perspectives, has infinite possibilities. The narrative, an intrinsic cultural attitude peculiar to our part of the world, and also that of the miniature painting tradition, is another element that interests me. The scale makes the work intimate and demanding, for both the artists and the viewer. The multifarious ways in which the components, qualitative and quantitative, of miniature may be exploited excite.

Each mark is carefully placed with the brush, having a space of its own in the entire scheme, and meanings beyond. In contrast, the stain/s is arbitrary; not following any rule of human invention or control. Evoking organic forms, it is primal, not ‘hand-made’, subject to environmental forces for its ultimate form/semblance. Dichotomies juxtaposed.

Like the hair. Growth every moment, in space and in time. Symbolising evolution and metamorphosis of self, which is the same, yet entirely new every new moment.

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