Nilima Sheikh

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Nilima Sheikh

One of the doyennes of the Indian art world, Nilima Sheikh’s engagement with art has spanned over four decades. Her beautifully ephemeral landscapes using tempera on handmade paper, strongly influenced by Chinese, Persian, Central Asian, pre-Renaissance European and North Indian schools of tempera painting offer to the viewer exquisite narratives on loss, migration and exile. Her depiction of narration eschews the use of perspective in favour of a style of representation that seems to exist outside time. There is a visual and textual layering where geographies are infused with diverse histories. Many of her paintings explore the idea of the return to a site of past violence, especially Kashmir. Others like When Champa Grew Up centre on the experience of womanhood. To each of her work, is an extraordinary density and narrative depth and also, a commitment to feminist realities. Nilima Sheikh’s detailed etching of the expressions of her characters, the glowing, textile-like colours and her concern for traditional art forms (a legacy of her mentor KG Subramanyan’s training) all come together to illuminate scrolls, curtains, boxes and even a whole shamiana. Her works are defined by richness and subtlety conflating ancient mythology with modern history.

In her long and illustrious career, Nilima Sheikh has shown her works at Documenta; Gallery Espace, New Delhi; Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Valencia; Alexander Ochs Gallery, Berlin; the First Johannesburg Biennale, South Africa and many others. She has painted sets for theatrical productions like Umrao and Vivadi which were shown in Delhi. In addition, she has also illustrated children’s books like Saare Mausam Achche by Safdar Hashmi. She has also published several essays on art in books, journals and artists’ catalogues since 1971.

The artist lives and works in Baroda and Delhi.

 

NILIMA SHEIKH

Born in 1945, Delhi, India

Lives and works in Baroda and Delhi, India

EDUCATION

1971

MA (Fine Arts) MS University of Baroda

1969

BA (Fine Arts) MS University of Baroda

1965

BA (History) Delhi University

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2010

Each night put Kashmir in your dreams, Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai; Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

2009

Drawing Trails: Works on Paper, Gallery Espace, New Delhi

2003

The Country Without A Post Office: Reading Agha Shahid Ali, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai

2001

Conversations with Tradition (exhibition of two artists), Asia Society, New York

1999

Images from Umrao, Nature Morte, New Delhi
Painted Drawings, Gallery Espace, New Delhi

1998

Garden for Mother, Sakshi Gallery, Bangalore
Galerie FIA, Foundation for Indian Artists, Amsterdam

1995

Song-Space, Gallery Chemould, at Max Muller Bhawan, Mumbai

1993

Song, Water, Air, Gallery Espace, New Delhi

1985

Contemporary Art Gallery, Ahmedabad
Triveni Gallery, New Delhi

1984

Pundole Gallery, Mumbai

1983

Triveni Gallery, New Delhi

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2011

Tradition Trauma Transformation, David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence
Fabular Bodies, Harmony Art Foundation, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai

2010

Place-Time-Play: Contemporary Art from West Heavens to Middle Kingdom, Shanghai

2008

Mapping Memories: Painted Travelogues, Threshold Art Gallery, New Delhi
India Moderna, Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Valencia

2007

Tiger by the Tail: Women Artists of India Transforming Culture, Brandeis University, Waltham/Boston
Horn Please: Narratives in Contemporary Indian Art, Kunstmuseum, Berne
2006

Back to the Future, Gallery Espace, New Delhi
The Lyrical Line, Gallery Espace, New Delhi

2005

Ritu/Mausam/Seasons, Anant Art Gallery at Shridharani Gallery, New Delhi.
Angkor the silent centuries, Bodhi Art and Threshold Art Gallery at Bodhi Art, New Delhi
Bhupen Among Friends, Gallery Chemould at Museum Gallery, Mumbai
Identity Alienation Amity, Gallerie Publishers and Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai
Change of Address, The Guild, Mumbai

2004

The Margi and the Desi, Gallery Espace at Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi
After Dark, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
Interlude in Sri Lanka, The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai
Subtlety-Minimally, Sakshi Gallery at Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi
Edge of Desire, co-sponsored by the Asia Society, New York at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth Australia; and Asia Society Museum New York, Tamayo Museum, Mexico City
In Transit 2, presented by Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai at the Alexander Ochs Galleries, Berlin
Tree Basera, Outdoor Installation at India International Centre, New Delhi

2003

Ways of Resisting, SAHMAT, Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi
Celebration of Colour, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi.
Contemporary Miniatures: India/Pakistan, The Fine Art Resource, Berlin
Crossing Generations: diVERGE, Gallery Chemould at National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai

2002

New Indian Art: Home-Street-Shrine-Bazaar-Museum, Art South India, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester
Words and Images, The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai

2001

Celebration of the Human Image, Gallery 42, at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

3 Contemporary Artists, Bose Pacia Modern, New York
In Conversation, Gallery Espace, New Delhi
Ashta-Nayika, Gallery Tao, Mumbai

2000

A Global View: Indian Artists at Home in the World, Fine Art Resource at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
Embarkations, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
Vilas, Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Mumbai
Once upon a time, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai

1999

Theatre und Kunst, The Fine Art Resource, Berlin

1998

Contemporary Indian Art, Vadehra Art Gallery and AI Funoon Gallery, Kuwait
Indian Contemporary Art – Post-Independence, Vadehra Art Gallery at National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

1997

Women Artists of India: A Celebration of Independence, Mills College Art Gallery, Oakland
Gift for India, organised by Sahmat at New Delhi and Mumbai
Major Trends in Indian Art, organised by Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
Indian Contemporary Art: An Overview, The Fine Art Resource, Berlin, Germany

1996

Inside Out: Women Artists of India, Middlesborough Art gallery, Middlesborough, UK
Water Colours: A Broader Spectrum-III, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
Chamatkar, CIMA, Calcutta at Whiteley’s Art Gallery, London

1995

Works on Paper, Gallery Espace, New Delhi
Timeless Art, organised by Times of India Sesquicentennial, Mumbai
Portraits, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
A Homage, 125th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, LTG Gallery, New Delhi
Postcards for Gandhi, organised by Sahmat at New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Madras, Bangalore and Ahmedabad
A Tree in my Life, The Village Gallery, New Delhi

1994

Drawing 1994, Gallery Espace at AIFACS, New Delhi

1990

Contemporary Indian Art, Bangladesh Shilpa Kala Akademi, Dhaka

1989

Artists Alert, organised by Sahmat, New Delhi
Exhibition for Expressions, Women’s Theatre Festival, Mumbai

Through the Looking Glass, Bharat Bhawan, Bhopal, Shridharani Gallery, New Delhi, Sista’s Gallery, Bangalore, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, CCA, New Delhi

1988

Art auction in aid of HelpAge India by Christie’s, London, in Mumbai

1985

Play, exhibition of six Indian painters sponsored by ICCR in Belgrade, Titograd, Istanbul, Ankara

1982

Contemporary Indian Painting, assisted by ICCR in Worpswede, Hamburg, Hannover, Braunschweig and Bremen, West Germany

1978

New Contemporaries, organised by Marg and Indian Society of Art Appreciation, Mumbai

1977

Exhibitions with Black Partridge Gallery, New Delhi
Pictorial Space, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

1975

Baroda University Silver Jubilee Exhibition, Mumbai

1974

Group Exhibition, Rabindra Bhawan, New Delhi

1971

Art Today, II and IV, Kunika Chemould Art Centre, New Delhi

Art Fairs/Biennials/Triennials

1996 The Second Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia.
1995 Dispossession, Africus, First Johannesburg Biennale, South Africa.
1986 3rd Asian Biennale, Bangladesh, Dhaka.

WORK IN THEATRE

2000

Lao Jiu, the Ninth Born, visual design and painted sets, Vivadi with Black Tent Theatre, New National Theatre, Tokyo

1998

Sundari: An Actor Prepares, visual design and painted sets, Vivadi and Majlis, Sriram Centre, New Delhi

1993

Umrao, visual design and painted sets, Vivadi, Sriram Centre, New Delhi

1989

Nayika Bheda, improvisatory workshop and production, Vivadi, Kasauli Art Centre, Kasauli

1987

Pata for street theatre production on the Sati issue, New Delhi

ILLUSTRATED CHILDREN’S BOOKS

2008

Moon in the Pot, Gopini Karunakar, published by Anveshi Research Centre for Women’s Studies, Hyderabad

2006

Saare Mausam Achche, Safdar Hashmi, published by SAHMAT, New Delhi

1986

Do Mutthi Chawal, adapted from a Japanese tale by GM Sheikh, published for Fine Arts Faculty Fair, Vadodara

TEACHING AND RESIDENCIES

2005

Printmaking at Singapore Tyler Printmaking Institute for Limited Edition Print Portfolio by 10 Asian Artists, in celebration of the Asia Society’s 50th Anniversary, New York

2004

Roman J Witt Resident Artist University of Michigan

Penny W Stamp Lecturer on invitation by the Museum of Art and School of Art and Design

2005

Artist in Residence, Montalvo Artists Studios, California

1977-89

Intermittently held temporary teaching posts in Painting at Faculty of Fine Arts, M S University of Baroda
Participated in Artist’s Camps, Workshops and Seminars in South and South East Asia, China and Europe since 1974.

PUBLICATIONS

2006

Flowers, Benodebehari Mukherjee Retrospective Publication, NGMA New Delhi and the Guild, Mumbai

2004

Travelscapes (on Manu Sanghari’s works on paper), Zameen Aasmaan, Exhibition Catalogue, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

2000

Still ploughing the field: Sculpture by Nagji Patel, Lalit Kala Contemporary 43, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

1998

On Theatre Design, catalogue on Sundari: An Actor Prepares, Vivadi, New Delhi

1997

A Post Independence Initiative in Art, chapter in a book on Contemporary Art in Baroda, edited by Ghulam Mohammed Sheikh, sponsored by Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited, Baroda (published by Tulika, New Delhi)

1996

Amrita Shergil, in a book on Women Artists of India, edited by Gayatri Sinha, Marg Publications, Mumbai

1994

Between Drawing and Painting, Drawing 1994, Gallery Espace, New Delhi
Materialising Dream: Body and Fabric (on Arpita Singh’s paintings), exhibition catalogue, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi. Revised for New York Show, Bose Pacia

1993

Ira Chaudhuri, exhibition catalogue, Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai

1991

China Diary, a travel essay in two parts published in the Indian Express in January

1990

On Visiting Nathdwara, the Indian Magazine
Space to Speak (an edited conversation with Rekha Rodwittiya), exhibition catalogue, Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai
Orchestration (on Vivan Sundaram’s paintings), exhibition catalogue

1989

Choreography of Memory, Mime and Fantasy (on Leela Mukherjee’s works on paper), exhibition catalogue
DLN Reddy, exhibition catalogue, Gallery 7, Mumbai
Conversation with M Sashidharan, exhibition catalogue, Gallery 7, Mumbai

1985

In conversation (on Mrinalini Mukherjee’s sculpture), exhibition catalogue

1982

Subramanyan and his art (co-author), catalogue for retrospective exhibition, Bharat Bhawan, Bhopal

1973

The Exotic and the Ambiguous: Recurrent trends in Modern Indian Painting, Times Weekly, 15.04.1973, reprinted in Vrishchik in the same year.

AWARDS

1988

Awarded Government of India Senior Fellowship to study the tradition of tempera painting from the practitioner point of view, to locate relevance of its technique and visual language to the contemporary context.

1986

Worked on Pichhavai painting of Nathdwara, a documentation cum research project supported by the National Handloom and Handicraft Museum, New Delhi

1982

Awarded Government of India Fellowship to study and incorporate pictorial and aesthetic concepts of Indian miniature paintings.

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