the Mughal Effect

INDIA • WHEN ASIA MEETS WEST


Artists who are inspired by the Indian-Persian Miniature Paintings


1. Alexander Gorlizki

Alexander Gorlizki is a British artist living in New York. He is best known for his interest in Asian arts, including his collaboration with Riyaz Uddin, an Indian painter of miniatures from Jaipur.

ALEXANDER GORLIZKI, ‘My World or Yours’, 2013

ALEXANDER GORLIZKI, ‘The Audition’, pigment and gold on paper, 2015

ALEXANDER GORLIZKI, ‘The Entertainment Committee’ , 2015

ALEXANDER GORLIZKI, ‘The Entertainment Committee’, 2015

ALEXANDER GORLIZKI

ALEXANDER GORLIZKI, ‘Time Management’, pigment on paper, 2014

His collaboration with Riyaz Uddin

Gorlizki's works on paper originate from an obsession with Indian miniature paintings — a tradition that he has subverted and applied to his own particular visual language. In the mid-1990s, he opened a studio in Jaipur with Riyaz Uddin, a master painter with a perfect command of technique that involves using a curved squirrel hair brush, dating back over 600 years. These special squirrel hair brushes are used for creating the exceptional fine lines and shading work that are synonymous with Indian miniature painting. The brushes are made from hair from the squirrel's tail and come to a single hair point at the very tip.

Alexander Gorlizki draws wonderfully odd subjects, patterns and compositions that Uddin then paints with jewel-coloured pigments, stone colours and gold leaf with this special single hair-tipped brush to create works of exquisite intricacy. When not working together in the studio, the drawings are sent back and forth between New York and Jaipur to be modified and adapted, often over a period of years.

ALEXANDER GORLIZKI, ‘Over the Hill and Far Away’, 2011

ALEXANDER GORLIZKI, ‘Way Back When’ ,  pigment on paper,  2018

ALEXANDER GORLIZKI, ‘Way Back When’, pigment on paper, 2018

ALEXANDER GORLITZKI, ‘Take Your Time’,   pigment and gold on paper, 2014

ALEXANDER GORLITZKI, ‘Take Your Time’, pigment and gold on paper, 2014

ALEXANDER GORLIZKI AND RIYAZ UDDIN STUDIO, “Quorum,” opaque watercolour and gold on inkjet digital print, 2008 ©Royal Ontario Museum ROM.

ALEXANDER GORLIZKI, ‘We are Union’, pigment and gold on paper, 2012

ALEXANDER GORLIZKI

ALEXANDER GORLIZKI

2. Olivia Fraser

Olivia Fraser is a Scottish artist who lives in India and who has mastered the miniature paintings of the Mughals.

Artist Olivia Fraser, who lives in Delhi with her husband, writer William Dalrymple, explains how she became one of the few Indian miniature painters.

Following the footsteps of her relative James Baillie Fraser, a Scottish travel writer and artist who painted India, its monuments and landscape in the early 1800s, Olivia sets out to continue from where her kinsman left off through her paintings.

‘Fraser Album’ was a great masterpiece of Company School Painting, portraying the different types of people and their jobs, crafts and castes against stark white backgrounds, initiated by James Baillie Fraser. This hybrid form of painting, in which Indian artists created art that mixed techniques and ideas from the East and West, greatly influenced Olivia’s early work during the 1990s.

British contemporary visual artist Marc Quinn says of her artwork:

“Olivia Fraser somehow manages to use the ancient techniques of Indian painting with a modern and cross-cultural twist – very much art for our globalised world.”

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Golden Lotus’ ,  Stone pigment, gold leaf and Arabic gum on handmade sanganer pape r,  2008

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Golden Lotus’, Stone pigment, gold leaf and Arabic gum on handmade sanganer paper, 2008

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘The Blue Lotus’,   2010

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘The Blue Lotus’, 2010

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Awakening’,   stone pigment, Arabic gum, gold leaf on homemade Sanganer paper, 2012

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Awakening’, stone pigment, Arabic gum, gold leaf on homemade Sanganer paper, 2012

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Dance of the Peacocks’ (Bagicha ka Utsava) ,  2006

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Dance of the Peacocks’ (Bagicha ka Utsava), 2006

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Becoming Krishna’, 2009

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Becoming Krishna’, 2009

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘The Musicians’

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘The Musicians’

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Holy Cows’,   2007

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Holy Cows’, 2007

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Darshan I, Painting: pigment, gold leaf and arabic gum on handmade Sanganer paper, 2018

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Tryptic: Gopashtami’,   2007

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Tryptic: Gopashtami’, 2007

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Prana’,   Stone pigment and Arabic gum on handmade Sanganer paper , 2015

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Prana’, Stone pigment and Arabic gum on handmade Sanganer paper, 2015

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Blue Himalaya’,   Stone pigment and Arabic gum on handmade Sanganer paper, 2015

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Blue Himalaya’, Stone pigment and Arabic gum on handmade Sanganer paper, 2015

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Krishna III’

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Krishna III’

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘I see him now’ ,  2011

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘I see him now’, 2011

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Ragamala II’

OLIVIA FRASER, ‘Ragamala II’

3. SHAHZIA SIKANDER

Shahzia Sikander initially trained in Pakistan at the National College of Arts. While there, she firmly rejected the artistic trends of the time and instead decided to master the ancient art of miniature painting, drawing on elements from both Indian and Persian traditions. In 1993, she relocated to the United States to study at the Rhode Island School of Design and settled in New York. She began incorporating both personal and contemporary symbols into her work, features not traditionally found in miniature painting, and simultaneously injecting a new sense of relevance into this centuries-old custom. Sikander’s works vary drastically with regard to their scale and the medium employed. Her work is distinctive and significant due to the fact that it constantly defies convention both in terms of its artistic formal structure and content; by bringing together of handicraft and digitisation, East and West, or Hindu and Muslim.

Sikander is clearly a pioneer in her field, taking classical Indo-Persian miniature painting as its starting point and defying the genre’s strict, rigorous conventions. She does so by playing with scale and art mediums. Her works are influenced and informed by a variety of perspectives - South Asian, American, Feminist and Muslim - allowing Sikander to display the unique and critical approach she has developed to this centuries-old and time-honoured medium. She takes advantage of its unending capacity for reinvention to question the notions of language, trade, empire and migration.

©SHAHZIA SIKANDER

©SHAHZIA SIKANDER

©SHAHZIA SIKANDER

©SHAHZIA SIKANDER

©SHAHZIA SIKANDER

©SHAHZIA SIKANDER

©SHAHZIA SIKANDER

©SHAHZIA SIKANDER

©SHAHZIA SIKANDER

©SHAHZIA SIKANDER

©SHAHZIA SIKANDER

©SHAHZIA SIKANDER

4. HIBA SCHAHNAZ

Hiba Schahbaz was born in Karachi, Pakistan and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is trained in the centuries-old traditional Indo-Persian painting technique, and aims to challenge the inflexible rules of miniature painting and recontextualise the art form to accept and embrace a female perspective. She works primarily with paper, black tea and water-based pigments. Since moving to the United States, her practice has expanded from miniature painting to human-scale works on paper, though the Indo-Persian miniature style can still be discerned in her artworks, through the use of colours and their setting and framing.

In her artist statement, Schahbaz declares that she is both the artist and the performer. She photographs her body and uses these images as references for her paintings. Through the stories she creates, she aims to contemplate what it means to be a woman. These works address issues of personal freedom, destruction, sexuality and censorship by unveiling the beauty, fragility and strength of the female form.

“I use the female figure to unfold a narrative that transcends cultural and political boundaries. I tell my own story while heavily embellishing it with imagination and metaphor. And although the protagonist in the work is me, she also carries a dual, existential meaning. I often use the female form as a tool, portraying thoughts and concerns from sociocultural and political realms.”

HIBA SCHAHNAZ  ,  ‘The Guard’,  Collage, gouache, tea, watercolour and gold leaf on wasli, 2014.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ, ‘The Guard’, Collage, gouache, tea, watercolour and gold leaf on wasli, 2014.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ  ,  ‘Untitled’,  Gouache, tea, watercolour and gold leaf on wasli, 2015.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ, ‘Untitled’, Gouache, tea, watercolour and gold leaf on wasli, 2015.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ  ,  ‘Self-Reflection’,  Gouache, tea, watercolour and gold leaf on wasli, 2015.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ, ‘Self-Reflection’, Gouache, tea, watercolour and gold leaf on wasli, 2015.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ  ,  ‘The Artist’s Studio’,  Gouache, tea, and watercolour on wasli, 2012.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ, ‘The Artist’s Studio’, Gouache, tea, and watercolour on wasli, 2012.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ  ,  ‘My Selves’,  (3) Collage, gouache, tea, gold leaf and watercolour on wasli, 2012.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ, ‘My Selves’, (3) Collage, gouache, tea, gold leaf and watercolour on wasli, 2012.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ  ,  ‘The Bath’,  Gouache, tea, and watercolour on wasli, 2014.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ, ‘The Bath’, Gouache, tea, and watercolour on wasli, 2014.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ  ,  ‘The Sleepover’,  Tea, collage, pigment, gouache and watercolour on wasli, 2012.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ, ‘The Sleepover’, Tea, collage, pigment, gouache and watercolour on wasli, 2012.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ  ,  ‘Room With A View’,  Tea, gouache and watercolour on wasli, 2013.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ, ‘Room With A View’, Tea, gouache and watercolour on wasli, 2013.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ  ,  ‘Self Portrait With Roses’,  Tea, gouache and watercolour on wasli, 2014.

HIBA SCHAHNAZ, ‘Self Portrait With Roses’, Tea, gouache and watercolour on wasli, 2014.