Born in Aligarh, India in 1937, Zarina Hashmi who goes by her first name is an Indian-born, American artist
whose work spans from minimal drawing to printmaking and sculpture which more or less evokes and
explores the idea of home, distances, trajectories influenced by her own extensive travels. Zarina received in a
degree in Mathematics and is fascinated by architecture which reflects in her use of geometry and structural
purity on her works. Having an identity of an Indian woman born as a Muslim, she uses visual elements from
islamic religious decorations, especially the regular geometry commonly found in Islamic architecture.
She has been one of the very few women amongst the Indian artists of her time to include M.F. Husain, V.S.
Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta and Nasreen Mohamedi. Her artistic practice expanded after marriage and
departure from Aligarh in 1958 during sojourns abroad when she lived in Bangkok, Paris and Bonn with her
husband, a diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. While living in Paris in the mid-1960s, Zarina studied
with Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17 and was one of the many Indian artists living and working there at
the time. Upon her return to India in 1968, Zarina moved to Jaguar and lived there, alone, for six years. She
left Delhi for Tokyo in 1974 where she worked with Toshi Yoshido at his studio and immigrated to the
United States the following year. Zarina built out her loft, a community of friends and was part of the city’s
burgeoning feminist art movement. She supported herself by teaching at universities across the country then
traveled back home to India, fought eviction from her apartment, had exhibitions in India, Pakistan and New
York, and continued visiting her family in Pakistan after they moved in 1959, the new country that they, but
not she, would call home. Zarina’s relationship to her homeland and newly adopted country mirrored the
fraught relationship both have had with their Muslim minorities.
Over three decades, the artist sustained
herself and her practice in the United States through
teaching and a transitional network of support. Zarina
had solo shows Delhi, Bombay and Karachi
throughout the 1970s and 80s while living in the
United States and continues her relationship with
artists, friends and gallery owners in these cities,
relationships that now span forty years. Even before
Zarina represented India in its pavilion at the Venice
Biennale, she had inspired artists across South Asia
and the Middle East as one of the few artists in the
region who has worked with abstraction and
minimalism for her entire career.
Zarina’s involvement with paper and its possibilities
spans her entire life and seemingly defines her
creative expression. For her, it addresses the idea of
a house/home which has engaged her for years.
Because these images in cast paper are tangible, they
substantiate the idea of permanence; yet retrieving
the past an dyield to the idea of impermanence.
Working with cast paper freed her from the
invariable, rectangular page which she dealt with
when making a print where she deals with
proportions of the page, the border and the margins
Zarina, who chooses to be referred to simply by her first name, was a prominent figure in feminist circles of the New York art scene in the 1970s.
While her work has been featured in major exhibitions and is represented in important public collections,
including those of the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in
New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, this exhibition marks the most comprehensive
survey to date of her strikingly beautiful, contemplative, and poetic oeuvre. Zarina currently lives and works
in New York.
Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zarina_(artist) on July 24, 2018.
Excerpts from the book Zarina ‘Weaving Darkness and Silence’ by Sadia Shirazi published by Gallery Espace on 2018
Excerpts from the book Zarina ‘Paper Houses’ published by Gallery Espace on 2007
- President’s Award for Printmaking, India, 1969
- Residency Award at the Women’s Studio Workshop, Rosendale, New York, 1991
- Residency Award, Art-Omi, Omi, New York, 1994
- Lines of Inquiry: Partition, Historiography and the Art of Zarina Hashmi
- Zarina: Paper Like Skin
- Zarina Hashmi: Noor
- Zarina: Paper Houses
- Zarina: Weaving Darkness and Silence
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