Last December, Baroda-based Nilima Sheikh became the first artist to be confirmed for this year’s Kochi-Muziris Biennale. A month before, her Terrain: Carrying Across, Leaving Behind, an eight-panel retro verso octagonal structure, comprising casein tempera paintings, was unveiled at Mumbai’s Chemould Prescott Road after its debut at documenta 14. Inscribed within the panels in eloquent detail were stories sourced from folklore and more recent events, such as the suicide of Dalit student Rohith Vemula. In August 2018, it traveled to Bikaner House, New Delhi, courtesy Gallery Espace. Early into 2018, Sheikh worked on small-scale paintings, “allowing for a condensation of experience: notations of afterthoughts and of what might be next”. However, not content with her demonstrated range of expertise with painting and stenciling over a five-decade-long career, Sheikh has found herself embracing a new medium. “After the summer, into the monsoon, I started working on the wooden panels which will make up my work in Kochi,” she says while speaking about her current muse—the nurse from Kerala. “The work is different from the way my hand has practiced over the last several years on paper, silk and canvas. This was adjunct to my choice of subject and format and certainly has been a process of discovery.” In store for 2019 is a show at Hong Kong’s Hanart Gallery, upon an invitation by noted curator-gallerist Tsong-Zung Chang.
Photograph: Avijit Mukul Kishore, courtesy Gallery Escape