The life and art of Zarina Hashmi (b.1937) in many ways mirror the development of the South Asian modern and contemporary art market. Now in her late seventies, Zarina (who goes by her first name) has in recent years become one of the most celebrated and critically acclaimed living South Asian artists.
In 2011 she was one of only four artists to represent India at their inaugural pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, and the following year the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles organised a major retrospective of her work which subsequently travelled to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Zarina (b. 1937), Home is a Foreign Place, 1999. Woodblock prints on handmade Kozo paper laid on Somerset paper. Sold for: INR11,025,000 (US$176,343)
Last December in Mumbai, an exquisite set of 36 woodblock prints entitled Home is a Foreign Place established a world auction record for Zarina in Christie’s second India Sale. Comprising a complete portfolio of abstracted minimalist forms, this work encapsulates the artist’s innovative approach to form and subject. It explores the conceptual representation of the ‘home’, which has been central to Zarina’s work since the early 1980s, the primary vehicle for its expression being the stylised house.
Brought up during the partition of the Indian subcontinent, Zarina experienced a seismic shift in her own national identity. Her home town of Aligarh, once part of the British Raj, became West Pakistan and then modern day Pakistan.
Following her marriage to a diplomat she moved around a great deal: over the years she lived in 25 different locations across Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia. This nomadic way of life anticipated our modern globalised world and contributed towards Zarina’s unique conception of nationality and origin, with eroded distinctions between place, home and location.
Zarina (b. 1937), The House at Aligarh, 1990. Etching on paper and text on Bhutanese handmade paper. Estimate: £15,000-20,000. This and the below work are offered in our South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art sale in London on 10 June
We are delighted to offer Zarina's The House at Aligarh (lot 41) in our South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art sale in London on 10 June. This portfolio of seven etchings with accompanying text is a poetic reminder of the nostalgia that the artist feels for her childhood in Aligarh and carries a palpable sense of place which any viewer can instantly identify with.
A further highlight of the sale is Homes I Made (lot 42), comprising a set of cast and painted aluminium houses on wheels. The piece is a literal manifestation of a belief central to Zarina’s ideology, that a home is where you make it.
Zarina (b. 1937), Homes I Made, 1991. Cast and painted aluminium. Estimate: £25,000-35,000
Zarina’s work displays a bold minimalist aesthetic, with recurring forms and geometric configurations recalling works by Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre and Richard Serra. Her oeuvre features delicate works on tactile, handmade paper as well as elegant sculpture casts and we offer works in both media in our upcoming sale.
Main image: Portrait of Zarina, image reproduced from M. Milford-Lutzker, Zarina Mapping a Life 1991–2001, California, 2001, p. 6