Artist Zarina Hashmi’s deep-rooted attachment to Sufism as well as Buddhism is often reflected in her profuse usage of gold leaf in her works. Conversely, creations like ‘Shadow House’ (2006), cut out of paper from Nepal, are reminiscent of rich Islamic architecture’s sculpted stone friezes and screens (Jali) that let women just peep outside sans they themselves being visible; an interplay of light & shade effectively evoking a house’s ephemeral nature. Here are other facets and stages of her art journey:
- Her multi-faceted practice embraces and amalgamates architecture, sculpture, woodcuts etc; tactile in the diverse materials used, minimal in its expression, and packed with meaning. Her preferred media are wood that she carves, (the wooden printing blocks), and paper that she manipulates with dexterity (including papier mâché forms).
- Her wood-block prints, paper casts pieces, or her wall installations connect the places and pieces of memories she gathers from them - Bangkok (1958-61); New Delhi (1961-63, 1968-74); Paris (1963-67); Bonn (1971-72); Tokyo in 1974; Los Angeles (1975-76) and finally New York, the city she has residing in since 1976 with a break in Santa Cruz (1992-97).
- In the course of her illustrious career, she has received several awards and honors including Montalvo Residency, Saratoga, California (2006); the Residency award at the Art-Omi, Omi, NY (1994); Residency Award courtesy the Women’s Studio Workshop, Rosendale, New York (1991), the N.Y.F.A. Fellowship in Printmaking/Drawing/Artists Books (1985, 1990); Japan Foundation Fellowship (1974); and the President’s Award for Printmaking (1969). She has been associated with institutes like Bennington College, Vermont; Cornell University, the New York Feminist Art Institute, and New York University as a teacher.
- Redolent of sound, smell and color along with the equilibrium and symmetry of Mughal architecture’s superb structural forms, the calligraphy of Urdu marks many of her works. In them, the poetic scope far surpasses the contemporary socio-politico-cultural context.
- Far from being a mere staid archaeology of the still past, the artist brings forth places, atmospheres and shaped by desire and imagination, sculpted in the light of everlasting hopes rooted in the paper she expertly cuts out, breathing and ageing, amplifying its fragility and its resilience to weather ravages of time.