Shahzia Collective Behavior

Palazzo Van Axel


Collective Behavior

20.04 → 20.10.2024

A gold, feminine figure without a head and connected tendrils in place of hands and feet emerging from a pink, blossoming lotus flower.

Shahzia Sikander (Pakistani and American, b. 1969), Havah, 2023, gouache, graphite, and gold leaf on wasli paper, Private Collection, © Shahzia Sikander.

The exhibition Shahzia Sikander: Collective Behavior brings together an exemplary selection of artwork from across the artist’s career, illustrating her distinctive iconography and continuous reinvention through the adoption of new mediums. The exhibition begins with her breakthrough work The Scroll (1989-90), created for her graduate thesis project at Lahore’s National College of Arts, which established her position at the vanguard of the neo-miniature movement. Encompassing the spectrum of her creative output from that career-launching work to the present-day, Collective Behavior also debuts new works by Sikander that respond to the architecture and history of the Palazzo Soranzo van Axel, the city of Venice, and global histories of trade and artistic exchange.

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Photography by Vincent Tullo

Shahzia Sikander

Born in 1969 in Lahore, Pakistan, Shahzia Sikander earned her B.F.A. in 1991 from the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore, where she received rigorous training from master miniaturist Bashir Ahmad. She became the first woman to teach in the Miniature Painting Department at the NCA, alongside Ahmad, and was the first artist from the department to challenge the medium’s technical and aesthetic framework. Sikander’s breakthrough work The Scroll (1989–90) received national critical acclaim in Pakistan, winning the prestigious Shakir Ali Award, the NCA’s highest merit award, and the Haji Sharif award for excellence. In 1993, Sikander moved from Lahore to Providence, Rhode Island to pursue graduate studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). After completing her MFA, Sikander moved to Houston, Texas to participate in the Core Residency Program at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s Glassell School of Art from 1995 to 1997.

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