Critics’ Picks

Zarina Hashmi, Wrapping the Travels, 2009, woven strips of woodcut prints and computer-generated text, 24 x 20".

Zarina Hashmi, Wrapping the Travels, 2009, woven strips of woodcut prints and computer-generated text, 24 x 20".

New York

Zarina Hashmi

Luhring Augustine | Chelsea
531 West 24th Street
June 20–July 31, 2009

In contrast to what its title suggests, Zarina Hashmi’s “The Ten Thousand Things” is a spare and elegant selection of the artist’s works on paper and sculpture from the late 1970s until today. Working primarily as a printmaker, Hashmi has used a Minimalist sensibility and an elemental, architectural language to engage themes of home, belonging, and personal journey throughout her career. Her seminal woodblock series “Home Is a Foreign Place,” 1999, is composed of thirty-six prints that each poignantly represents a moment or space she has experienced. These are indicated by the Urdu titles printed on each folio (such as THRESHOLD, DEW, and DESPAIR), which relate to Hashmi’s deep-rooted engagement with language and poetry, especially in her mother tongue. Under the guise of abstracted lines and letters, Hashmi’s recent works, including the prints Travels with Rani I & II, 2008, and the extraordinary Wrapping the Travels, 2009, detail private histories and map her early travels with her sister across the Indian subcontinent.

Hashmi was born and raised in Aligarh, India, and––as an urban nomad ahead of the times––studied and lived in cities including Paris and Tokyo before settling in New York in 1976. With the Indian art boom of the past few years, she earned widespread fame and success as an Indian artist (who is a woman and Muslim to boot). Yet with this exhibition and her recent participation in the historical surveys “The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860–1989” at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and “Gouge: The Modern Woodcut 1870 to Now” at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Hashmi is finally getting her due in varied cultures and contexts and is demonstrating how her work resonates on its own to transcend all of them.