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Zarina Hashmi 

"For 39 years I have been travelling. In a way that has shaped my being, my thought process, my art...The basic concept of my art has become the Home". No more concrete evidence for this obsession can be found than in the series House on Wheels - representing not one but all 11 homes in which Hashmi had lived in the course of her life.

distance covered not only in space but in years and time. Forty years is more than half a lifetime for most of us. In that period of time Hashmi has moved through nine destinations, nine homes, nine 'spaces' in her psyche. Born and brought up in Aligarh, she left New Delhi in 1958 as the wife of a diplomat. She settled first in Bangkok (1958-61), returned to Delhi (1961-63), moved to Paris (1963-67), experimented next with "a room of my own" in Jangpura, Delhi (1968-74) where she established a graphic press to begin her profession as a printmaker. Then she moved once again to Tokyo (1974) and then to Los Angeles (1975-6) and then to New York (1976-99) as her own "space to hide forever", took up a teaching appointment at Santa Cruz in California (1992-97). Fighting a legal case for possession of her loft in New York, she was transiting from the east to the west coast of the United States when I met her in 1995, and from India to Pakistan. When we talked, she found cause to reflect upon these experiences. 

"For 39 years I have been travelling. In a way that has shaped my being, my thought process, my art...The basic concept of my art has become the Home"


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Distance. Woodcut. A unit of a set of 6 prints. 1999. 16 inches x 13 inches. 
 
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Border. Woodcut. A unit of a set of 6 prints. 1999. 16 inches x 13 inches.  

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Time. Woodcut. A unit of a set of 6 prints. 1999. 16 inches x 13 inches. 

No more concrete evidence for this obsession can be found than in the series that she had just completed and was then on show in San Francisco. Concretised in metal, it presented the House on Wheels - not one but all 11 homes in which she had lived in the course of her life, repeated with no variation in the boxed image and significant in its anonymity. This is her comment on the situation of itinerant peoples, including herself. 

Intimations of her predicament had however surfaced in her work many years earlier, when she was still living in Delhi and experimenting as a graphic artist on the etching plate. As a hobby she took to gliding planes at Safdarjung airport; and, despite the thrill of flying, of controlling her direction and destiny, a strange sensation of unease would overcome her. These sensations went beyond the immediate, they were premonitions. As she said when we paused at her studio in Santa Cruz to look at the resulting work,

"When I used to fly, I used to look down to see the

THE ART NEWS MAGAZINE OF INDIA  VOL. V  ISSUE I    33
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