Born in 1937 in Aligarh, India, Zarina Hashmi received a BS in mathematics from Aligarh Muslim University (1958). Then she studied printmaking, a passion awakened by her encounters with local papermakers during a visit to Rajasthan in the late 1960s. Zarina went on to study intaglio with Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17, Paris (1964–67), and studied woodblock printing at Toshi Yoshida Studio, Tokyo, on a Japan Foundation Fellowship (1974). Her early interest in math and architecture are revealed in her practice through her formal sensibility and emphasis on structure. Primarily working in intaglio, woodblock, lithography, and silkscreen, her work explores themes of home, displacement, borders, and memory.
Zarina is known for her decidedly minimal approach to the use of line on handmade paper, often including calligraphic text in Urdu, her mother tongue. Within her art, thick, rough lines are often deployed to depict political borders and suggest collective memories of violence and the marginalization of groups regarded as other.
Atlas of My World (2001)
In works that focus on geographical, territorial, and social boundaries, such as Atlas of My World , and imagery of maps and charts are used to explore personal recollections or feelings of dislocation within a diaspora.
The title came from Adrienne Rich’s book of poems Atlas of a Difficult World. Both works are about the same thing.
…these Cities Blotted into the Wilderness (2003)
In this series, the artist represented cities known for the civilisations they spawn, their history and their cultural influence. She addresses the troubling question of the way we see these cities today. Each print evokes the tragedies of war and terrorism, and also the irreversible devastations – material, physical, and especially psychological – they cause. Today, Baghdad is just a field of ruins in our mind, so are Beirut and Kabul. And one cannot invoke New York without bringing out the memory of 9-11. The black lines, soaked with ink, accentuate the force of this evocation. Zarina draws theses places to ensure the indelible mark of their tragic history on our minds will never fade.
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