I think I am an artist because I am a painter and not a painter because I am an artist.
b. 1945, in New Delhi, India
Nilima Sheikh is rooted in Eastern painting traditions such as miniature painting and oral traditions found in vernacular folk songs. Through her own life experiences, Sheikh continues to create bodies of work that evoke mystical imaginary landscapes that address feminine experiences.
Inspired by reading Rabindranath Tagore, the artist became interested at an early age in the connection between stories and images, and age-old connection from murals to ancient manuscripts. Beyond appropriating traditional techniques in her work, Sheikh works with figure and narration in her practice, which has also beautifully translated into theatre sets such as the 1993 Vivadi theatre production of Umrao, as well as children’s books. Sheikh has inspired several generations over her five-decade career as a Baroda based painter.
During the last two decades, she has often been working on subjects that relate to the northern region of the Indian sub-continent, with particular emphasis on Kashmir. Trained as a historian before she was trained as a painter, Sheikh delved into the history of Kashmir, and believes that Kashmir’s turmoil “is owing to our lack of understanding (of the place and people there) as Indian. The artist’s role is to bear witness - to both the past and present.” This has accumulated in a body of work that has created a visual language to bring together different aspects of the region, and its histories, in an attempt to understand some of the complexities therein. Her previous solo exhibitions at Chemould, namely, The Country Without a Post Office: Reading Aga Shahid Ali, 2003 and Each Night Put Kashmir in your Dreams, 2010, are a testament to this.
Her most recent work titled Terrain : Carrying Across, Leaving Behind, consists of a single body of work: an 8 panel, retro verso, Casein tempera painting, enclosing an octagonal space. Inscribed in these panels are stories from folklore to present times that lend to each other new and cumulative language, and contexts. Sheikh also includes song and poetry as a performative mode of public address, echoing the fourteenth-century female mystic Lal Dĕd of Kashmir (translated by Ranjit Hoskote), along with references to texts from several writers who have written about Kashmir such as Aga Shahid Ali and Salman Rushdie. This work was produced for Documenta 14, which is historically one of the world’s most important exhibitions that takes place in Kassel, Germany, every 5 years.
5 Artists, 5 ProjectsGroup show 10 Oct - 9 Nov 2019Generationally and presently, women artists have always dominated the spectrum of artists that we exhibit; this was not necessarily the decided route to take, however the trajectory presented itself. In...
Modus OperandiGroup Show 13 Jul - 18 Aug 2018This July, Chemould Prescott Road presents Modus Operandi, a show that has been devised by Shireen Gandhy and the Chemould team, brin ging together a large number of Chemould artists...
Terrain: Carrying Across Leaving BehindNilima Sheikh 17 Nov - 9 Dec 2017The exhibition Terrain : Carrying Across, Leaving Behind, consists of a single body of work: an 8 panel, retro verso, Casein tempera painting, enclosing an octagonal space. Inscribed in these...
Aesthetic Bind: Floating World50 Years of Chemould | Group Show 19 Mar - 17 Apr 2014Among several imaginaries conjured by the Floating World, there is cosmology and a revolving earth-world; oceanic flows and cartographic representation of the globe’s topography; and an incremental growth in migration,...
Each Night Put Kashmir in Your DreamsNilima Sheikh 29 Mar - 29 Apr 2010In times when following careers of artists is becoming increasingly difficult with their work being shown across the globe and retrospectives few and far between it is a pleasure to...
crossing generations: diVERGE40 Years of Chemould | Group Show 2 - 14 Dec 2003diVERGE is premised on the polyphony articulated by contemporary artists in India. Rather than zooming in to chart a convergent discourse, the exhibition pans over a diverse spectrum of subjectivities...
Aesthetic Bind50 Years of Contemporary Art 2013 - 14 Softcover
Dimensions: 24 x 29 cm
Bhupen Among FriendsBhupen Khakhar 2005 Softcover, 53 pages
Dimensions: 28 x 28cm
Gained in TranslationNalini Malini & Nilima Sheikh 2011 Softcover, 32 pages
Dimensions: 25 x 20.5cm
Moving Focus, India: New Perspectives on Modern and Contemporary ArtEdited by Mortimer Chatterjee 2022 Two paperback volumes in a slipcase, 620 pages
Publisher: The Shoestring Publisher
Dimensions: 317.5 x 235 mm
Terrain Carrying Across Leaving BehindNilima Sheikh Gayatri Sinha, 2017 Softcover
Dimensions: 29 x 21 cm
Trace RetraceNilima Sheikh 2013 Hardback
Dimensions: 31 x 24 cm
Art Basel Hong Kong 2013Hong Kong 23 - 26 May 2013Public days: March 15 - 17, 2015 Chemould Prescott Road has a roster of senior, mid-career and young artists who have been part of the...
Art Basel 2011Basel, Switzerland 15 - 19 Jun 2011Public Days: Jun 15 - 19, 2011 For the “Art Feature” section at ArtBasel 2011, Chemould Prescott Road is foregrounding works by Nilima Sheikh (b.1945)...