Explosion of the Company Man, Series 1
Explosion of the Company Man, Series 1 is part of a larger series that explores Sikander’s ongoing interest in colonial history in the Indian subcontinent and in the British opium trade with China. Throughout the series we see an East India Company worker who appears in various forms and is the ‘exploding man.’ This piece is among the larger works in the series, which included miniatures and animations, referring to how the East India Company’s strategies from the seventeenth century continue to inform commercial activities today. Behind the blood-red flesh like dotting on the paper, we see what seems to be a Western, presumably British General in uniform with culottes and a hat. His face, in profile, appears to have the poise and posture of a nobleman, dignified in stature. The explosions that are superimposed over his fading figure draws the mind to Arabic script. The conversation between these two symbols in the painting evokes questions of authority, socio-cultural and political relations, and the memory of colonial legacies.