“Painting is such an ordinary thing.” That was my initial observation upon entering the mid-career survey of the Pakistan-born artist Shahzia Sikander. This thought occurred without my having registered the “extraordinary” claim found in the exhibition title. As it turns out, the Morgan is right. Sikander is an extraordinary—or, at least, atypical—artist: a miniaturist in an age of multimedia showpieces; a painter during a time when art is embracing the virtual when it isn’t dominating a lot of square footage. Sikander has an uphill row to hoe in a culture of post-everything abundance. It’s understandable that an artist given to virtuosic fantasies that are hardly bigger than a sheet of printer paper should feel the need to make some kind of splash. Take the opening gambit of “Extraordinary...


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