Explore visual art in stories, folklore, poems and verse | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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Explore visual art in stories, folklore, poems and verse

Veteran artist Nilima Sheikh is showing a giant, eight-panel work that is a poignant retelling of women and their lives, displacement and violence.

art and culture Updated: Nov 18, 2017 11:11 IST
Riddhi Doshi
Riddhi Doshi
Hindustan Times
Exhibition,Art,Paintings
‘I don’t just paint women. But my question, is why not women?’ Nilima Sheikh says. ‘I am a woman and my life and my body would have influences on the way I work.’
Terrain: Carrying Across, Leaving Behind
  • WHERE: Chemould Prescott Road, Queens Mansion, G Talwatkar Marg, Fort
  • WHEN: November 16 to December 9, 11 am to 7 pm (Closed on Sundays)
  • CALL: 2200-0211
  • Entry is free

There is so much to read and see and learn and imagine in veteran artist Nilima Sheikh’s uncluttered paintings that, every time you look at a work, you might find and discover something new.

Terrain: Carrying Across, Leaving Behind, a single eight-panel work, consists of stories, folklore, poems, verses – some written and some illustrated – talking about women’s concerns, displacement and violence. It was earlier shown at the contemporary art festival Documenta 2014 in Kassel, Germany.

An abandoned girl child, as prophesied, finds her love outside the community and drifts down the river. A woman crosses a mountain river supported by an earthen pot to meet her lover every night. A father beheads his young daughter, a primitive act of valour, to save her honour during Partition.

These stories of doomed existence are still sung across Punjab in both India and Pakistan and resonate across territories, perhaps in the same or different contexts.

First shown at the contemporary art festival Documenta 2014 in Kassel, Germany, Sheikh uses text, verses and illustrated poems in her work.

Sheikh too sometimes uses her figures in different illustrations and paintings old and new, and in each they acquire a different context. “I don’t just paint women. But my question, is why not women?” says Sheikh. “I am a woman and my life and my body would have influences on the way I work.”

Her most-talked about series was created in 1984. When Champa Grew Up was influenced by the dowry death of a girl Sheikh knew. “She would play outside my house,” says Sheikh. “In that sense, whatever is closer to your experience is easier to put into your work.”

Sheikh often adds texts and verses to her work. Sometimes, she illustrates a poem, like she did with poet Aga Shahid Ali’s powerful ‘The country without a post office’, based on Kashmir. The words gave Sheikh an entry into Kashmir, a subject she had been planning to paint for some time.

“I have always been interested in the notion of illustration and that was a driving force. I wanted to see if I could illustrate poetry,” she says.

First Published: Nov 17, 2017 22:03 IST