Terrain: Carrying Across Leaving Behind: Nilima Sheikh
The 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 panels are stories from folklore to present times that lend to each other new and cumulative language, and contexts. 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.
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. Sheikh often visited Kashmir during her childhood and her intense internal turmoil after the 2002 Gujarat riots engaged her ability to address her connection with Kashmir's anguish through her art. 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.
In the current work, Sheikh speaks about the girl-child abandoned, finding love outside her community, or a woman crossing a mountain river supported by an earthenware pot to meet her illicit lover every night. These songs of doomed resistance are still sung across Punjab, both in India and Pakistan. Coming to more contemporary times, a young student battling the lifelong hatred that birth in a low caste Dalit family brought him, ends his life as a final political act. 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.
We are excited to present these works from the seminal Documenta exhibition, at Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai. It will be an opportunity for audiences to engage with the pain, the pathos, along with unchartered beauty and painterly pleasure that one receives upon viewing Nilima Sheikh's work. We are looking forward to welcoming you to the gallery this November.