Zarina

BY CSMI STAFF WRITER

Zarina Hashmi (16 July 1937 – 25 April 2020), known professionally as Zarina, was an Indian-American artist and printmaker based in New York City. Her work spans drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. Associated with the Minimalist movement, her work utilized abstract and geometric forms in order to evoke a spiritual reaction from the viewer.

Zarina’s art was informed by her identity as a Muslim-born Indian woman, as well as a lifetime spent traveling from place to place. She used visual elements from Islamic religious decoration, especially the regular geometry commonly found in Islamic architecture. The abstract and spare geometric style of her early works has been compared to that of minimalists such as Sol LeWitt.

Zarina’s work explored the concept of home as a fluid, abstract space that transcends physicality or location. Her work often featured symbols that call to mind such ideas as movement, diaspora, exile. For example, woodblock print Paper Like Skin depicts a thin black line meandering upward across a white background, dividing the page from the bottom right corner to the top left corner. The line possesses a cartographic quality that, in its winding and angular division of the page, suggests a border between two places, or perhaps a topographical chart of a journey that is yet unfinished.