CIMA to present Shakila’s works in a titular show at Bihar Museum from Apr 13

New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) While the interesting story of artist Shakila making a mark in contemporary art is known to many, her large body of works has never been showcased outside Kolkata.

For the first time, the Centre of International Modern Art (CIMA), in collaboration with Bihar Museum, Patna, is showcasing over 30 of her artworks from April 13 to May 5 in a show titled ‘SHAKILA artworks from 1993 – 2024’.

Shakila started her life on the pavements of Kolkata. Deserted by her husband, her mother Jaheran Bibi sold vegetables in one of the city markets. However, B.R. Panesar, a philanthropist who in his spare hours helped children living on the pavement alongside the YMCA, did the same for Shakila and her siblings.

Shakila was married at the age of 12 to a vegetable vendor. However, with Panesar’s help, she found a job as a paper bag supplier. Her first brush with paper started here as she turned paper into bags.

Eventually driven by a deep desire to create, she started making paper collages, as she had watched Panesar paint and do collages with paper. There was no looking back after that.

“When CIMA started in 1993, Panesar approached me to help represent Shakila. CIMA organised her first show in collaboration with the World Bank; our friend, Bim Bissell, was the force behind it all, as she was working there at the time. Given Shakila’s special case, the World Bank permitted us to sell her works. Out of the 30 works Shakila presented, 29 were sold instantly,” recalls Rakhi Sarkar, Director of CIMA gallery.

After that, regular group shows started happening, followed by a breakthrough. Shakila was the only visual artist selected by the India Festival authorities at the Galeries Lafayette, Paris, in 1995.

Over the years, she has won several awards, accolades and honours. While her work started with a charming naivete and humour, the hypocrisies and vagaries of life imbued her creations with an occasional darkness.

She internalised her experiences and finally sublimated them into immensely poignant expressions – resplendent with subtle humour and sensitivity, hitting out silently yet forcefully, whenever her conscience and creative instincts beckoned.


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