Zarina Hashmi née Rasheed (she dropped her surname in later life) was born on 16 July 1937 in Aligarh to Sheikh Abdur Rasheed, a professor of history at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
She was ten at the time of the Partition and the consequent events impacted her life and her art forever, especially since her family chose to migrate to Pakistan some years later.
Zarina graduated in mathematics from AMU in 1958 and soon married Indian Foreign Service officer Saad Hashmi at the age of twenty-one. Travelling the world with her husband, the peripatetic nature of her new life came to be the second biggest denominator of her art following the Partition, both informing her lifelong quest for home, a recurrent theme in her works.
While on a Paris posting, she studied printmaking under S. W. Hayter at Atelier 17, from 1963-67, and in 1974 she joined the Toshi Yoshido Studio in Tokyo to study woodblock printing. In 1977, when based in New York, her husband passed away and Hashmi decided to make the city her home for the rest of her life.
Engaging herself in the politics of space, the artist questioned identity, the meaning of home, the urge for roots, borders and memory. In a series of works titled Maps, Homes and Itineraries, Mapping a Life and House with Four Walls, she challenged the actual space of cities by reconstructing the real maps in her minimalistic prints as fractured diagrams and angular lines, breaking through their borders. She taught printmaking at Bennington College, Cornell University, and at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Based in New York for most of her working life, she passed away in London on 25 April 2020.
‘It’s almost like writing your own life’s story. It’s the story of all immigrants. And that’s where the home comes in, the idea of home, and maps and floor plans’
‘Manifestations V, 20th Century Indian Art’
DAG, New Delhi, 2011
‘Indian Abstracts: An Absence of Form’
DAG, New Delhi, 2014; Mumbai and New York, 2015
‘Memory & Identity: Indian Artists Abroad’
DAG, New Delhi and New York, 2016; Mumbai, 2017
‘India’s French Connection: Indian Artists in France’
DAG, New Delhi and New York, 2018
‘The Sixties Show’
DAG, Mumbai, 2020
‘Ways of Seeing: Women Artists | Women as Muse’
DAG, New Delhi, 2021
'A Place in the Sun: Women Artists from 20th Century India'
DAG, New York, 2022
'Soliloquies of Solitude:
Five Indian Abstractionists in the West'
DAG, Mumbai, 2023
National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi
Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi
Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation, Mumbai
Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
New York Public Library, New York
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles
Yale University Library, New Haven
Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge
Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Menil Collection, Houston
Joel and Lina Harnett Museum of Art, University of Richmond, Richmond