Born: 16 July 1937

Zarina Hashmi - Paintings


Born in Aligarh, India on 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 extensive travels. Zarina received 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 Hashmi - Artworks
Souza - Indian Artist

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 and yield 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 around it.

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 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.

Family has been the cornerstone of Zarina’s inspirations. One of her most personal and iconic pieces of artwork titled Letters from Home is a compilation of six unposted letters written by Rani, her sister, to Zarina. Years later, Rani shared these letters with her during one of their visits together. The letters recounted the death of their parents, the selling of Rani's home, the sadness she felt after her children moved away, and how much she missed Zarina's presence throughout those trying times.

Due to her declining health, Zarina now spends most of her time in London with her niece, Saima, and nephew, Imran. She enjoys spending time being surrounded by family there, especially her great-grandniece, Shanaya.

For more information on the artist's life and work, visit, the artist's official website.

Text Reference:
Retrieved from 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
Excerpts from, retrieved on April 9, 2020.


  • 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


  • Zarina: Paper Houses (2007)
  • Zarina Hashmi: Recent Works (2011)
  • Zarina Hashmi: Noor (2011)
  • Lines of Inquiry: Partition, Historiography and the Art of Zarina Hashmi (2012)
  • Zarina: Paper Like Skin (2012)
  • Zarina: Weaving Darkness and Silence (2017)
  • Zarina: Directions to my House (2018)

Top 10 Auction Records

Title Price Realized
Home is a Foreign Place INR 11,025,000
Tears of the Sea USD 106,250
Phool USD 73,000
Letters from Home GBP 50,000
Ghar (Home) USD 55,000
Home is a Foreign Place (Edition 17) USD 50,000
Untitled USD 40,000
Untitled USD 37,500
Atlas of my World (I- VI) GBP 30,000
Home I Made - A Life in 9 lines USD 35,294
Untitled USD 32,500