The first solo museum exhibition of the work of revered Indian artist Nilima Sheikh features eight banners painted by the artist between 2003 and 2010 for a series focusing on both the magical history and contentious present of Kashmir. Currently owned by collectors throughout India and Southeast Asia, these scroll paintings come together at the Art Institute for the first time since their original display, alongside two additional works that Sheikh is creating especially for this Chicago installation.
The title of the series and exhibition is derived from a line in the poem, “I See Kashmir from New Delhi at Midnight” by the Kashmiri American poet Agha Shahid Ali. Ali’s work initially inspired Sheikh’s interest in Kashmir, a region she has visited since childhood. Sheikh’s scrolls combine Ali’s poems with excerpts from myriad sources, ranging from medieval poetry to Salman Rushdie’s books, along with equally widespread image references—miniatures, wall paintings, and magical Kashmiri folktales.
The resultant multifaceted works, at once masterful and haunting, recall the complex culture of the Kashmir Valley, once described as paradise on earth. Today the region has a much different reputation, fissured by the Line of Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan. While the paintings focus on the cosmopolitanism of the ancient Silk Road that linked Kashmir to Central Asia and China, they are also imbued with a contemporary perspective which encourages viewers to reflect and think afresh about this contested territory.
Nilima Sheikh (born 1945) is one of India’s most renowned artists. She studied history at Delhi University and painting at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Sheikh was the Roman J. Witt Resident Artist and Penny W. Stamp Lecturer at the University of Michigan in 2004 and artist in residence at the Montalvo Artists Studios, California, in 2005. She is married to the artist Gulammohammed Sheikh and lives in Vadodara and New Delhi, India. Her art practice of more than five decades includes works on paper, installations, large scrolls and screens, paintings, illustrations for children’s books, and theater set designs.
4 hours 38 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago “Painting depends on ink, ink depends on brush, brush depends on wrist, and wrist depends on the heart and mind.” —Tao Chi
The Inspired Chinese Brush is an installation of traditional Chinese ink paintings showcasing the rich variety of textural effects that could be achieved through careful control of the combination of ink and brushes used in their creation. Tang Yin’s painting Drinking at Night portrays the prominent 11th–century Chinese poet, calligrapher, and governmental official Su Shi drinking alone in a pavilion on a moonlit night. The work gets its name from Su Shi’s poem “Drinking on an Evening in Spring,” which is quoted on the scroll following the painting.
See this painting and the rest of the exhibition on view now in Gallery 134.
20 hours 58 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago The Museum Shop’s new fall collection has arrived online! Spend $75 or more by August 31 and receive free standard shipping on your order. Enter promo code FALL75 at checkout.
1 day 29 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago Yesomi Umolu, exhibitions curator at Logan Center Exhibitions, will be taking over our Instagram feed tomorrow.
Follow along to learn more about Yesomi’s work and see art from our collection that inspires her.