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Diary of a Traveller

Author: Niilofur Farrukh      Publications: Art Scene - weekend Post      Dated: 10 Sept 1993

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In Zarina Hashmis oeuvre on eastern sensibility seems to be at work in the minimalistic genre unlike the mechanical forms of this style found in the West– her images provide an emotional access to the Pakistani viewer who can relate to it.

Home is the theme of her recent show held at the Chawkandi Art in which the artist narrates her memories of continual dislocations which have resulted in her shedding the non-essential components of life and work.

Multi-dimensional forms are explored as relief installations, free standing sculpture and etching form a part of the exhibition.

The 8 print portfolio leads the viewer into her child hood. When incidents and the rhythm of seasons left an imprint on her mind. Zarina recalls mischief in On long summer altemoons every one slept. I ran out to play and bum my feet. Monsoon so integral to UP in India is evoked in On rainy nights the ghost stopped by the pillar and The black snake came into the house. ln a more recently executed set of four etchings Zarina shows a preference of the rectilinear format. Squares within squares become a living space. Actions, emotions and sensations take the shape of textures and tones as they are etched into linear symbols. The legend reads A house of many rooms, I walk from room to room, Touching walls, Boundaries of despair. In the mood of these monochromatic prints is buried the ethos of a human life lived in houses away from home.

Discordant with the soft textures and gentle tones of black and the sharp hard edged sculptural forms and reliefs. Four walls is her recurrent theme and four slabs that enclose space become a symbol of home. The effect is a stimulating pattern of negative and positive space in a House on wheels an installation of twenty-five reliefs. The single form is roughly ten inches high and fashioned from a triangle, a rectangle and two spheres. Zarina often employs the repetitive image for a visual impact, it is found in her relief installations and in A thousand journeys as 37 small houses on wheels are grouped — a scene redolent of a resting caravan.

Zarina is primarily a printmaker who has held two previous shows in Karachi. She began with woodcuts during her stay in Thailand. Her first introduction to etching came through William Hayter at his Paris studio to which Zarina was associated from l963 to 1967. Presently Zarina is settled in New York but has taken short trips to Japan and China to learn the craft of paper making. A teacher of print making at California  university she divides her year between the East and West coast of USA and like to take time off to visit her sisters and elderly father in Karachi.

Zarina is an epitome of the twentieth century artist who feels free to master techniques from such diverse societies like Thailand, Japan, Europe and America and has confidently synthesised it with her root culture. She draws on a personal iconography culled from memory and heritage which is articulated in monochromatic etching on handmade substrate. The appeal of her work lies in its universality– she harnesses intuition and skill to build bridges between the arts and crafts of the citizens of the world.