Home Artist “Exploring Homes and Horizons: The Artistic Journey of Zarina Hashmi”

“Exploring Homes and Horizons: The Artistic Journey of Zarina Hashmi”

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In 1937, in the city of Aligarh, India, a talented artist named Zarina Hashmi was born. She is of Indian origin but has become an accomplished American artist, with a wide range of work spanning from minimal drawing to printmaking and sculpture. Through her art, Zarina explores the concepts of homes, distances, and trajectories, bringing them to light and significance.

Her extensive travels have shaped her artistic journey. Zarina holds a degree in mathematics and is drawn to the precision and structural purity seen in her works of architecture. Embracing her identity as a Muslim Indian woman, she incorporates elements of Islamic decorative art, particularly the regular geometry often found in Islamic architecture.

Zarina is among the few Indian female artists to be included in the league of prominent artists like M.F. Husain, V.S. Gaitonde, Tayeb Mehta, and Nasreen Mohamedi. After her marriage and during her husband’s diplomatic service, she lived in Bangkok, Paris, and Bonn. In the 1960s, while residing in Paris, Zarina studied at Atelier 17 with Stanley William Hayter, becoming one of the Indian artists in the city at that time.

Zarina later moved to the United States in 1974, where she established a home, a community of friends, and became an integral part of the emerging feminist art movement in the city. She pursued further education at universities across the country while also actively participating in exhibitions and events in India, Pakistan, and New York. Despite the challenges of relocation to Pakistan after its partition in 1959, she continued to visit her family, though they couldn’t always afford to call her.

Her association with her homeland and the newly formed country reflects her complex relationship with her Muslim minority community. For over three decades, she maintained her artistic practice and growth through a supportive network in the United States. During this time, Zarina performed solo shows in Delhi, Bombay, and Karachi in the 1970s and 1980s, nurturing her relationships with artists, friends, and gallery owners in these cities.

Before representing India in the Venice Biennale, Zarina had already inspired some of the artists in the South Asian and Middle Eastern region to work with immateriality and subtlety throughout their careers.

Zarina’s connection with paper and its possibilities has been a consistent thread throughout her life, defining her creative expression. It speaks to a concept of home and homeland that has occupied her for years. Working with cast paper liberated her from the constraints of a fixed surface, where she dealt with proportions, boundaries, and edges.

Referring to herself solely by her first name, Zarina was a leading figure in the feminist circles of the New York art scene in the 1970s. While her work has been showcased in major exhibitions and important public collections, including the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the most notable survey of her profoundly beautiful, contemplative, and poetic works is in her private and esteemed artwork, “Letters from Home,” a collection of six unpublished letters written to her by her sister Rani during her travels.

Zarina Hashmi On Doodle

Due to declining health, Zarina now spends most of her time in London with her niece Saima and nephew Imran. She cherishes her time there, particularly with her granddaughter Shania.

Overall, Zarina Hashmi’s journey has been a testament to her unwavering dedication to her art and the profound impact it has had on both her personal life and the art world.

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