The Art Institute is thrilled to welcome the first retrospective of Indian-born American artist Zarina. Organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, this long-overdue survey traces Zarina’s career from 1961 to the present and features approximately 60 works from the artist’s studio, as well as from public and private collections.
Zarina Hashmi was born in Aligarh, India, in 1937 and has lived and worked in New York for the past 30 years. Her main medium is paper, which she employs in woodcuts, etchings, drawings, rubbings, and casts made from paper pulp. Although she is primarily a printmaker, she considers herself to be a sculptor as well, in part because the activity of carving blocks of wood is central to her practice.
Zarina’s vocabulary is minimal yet rich in associations. Her abstract compositions are inextricably linked to her life and to the themes of dispossession and exile that have marked it. Her family is Muslim but chose to stay in India following the partition of 1947, which resulted in the uprooting and deaths of millions of people. Conditions in India eventually made it impossible for them to remain any longer, but by the time her parents chose to immigrate to Pakistan in 1959, Zarina was married and living in Thailand. She was unable to return to her childhood home and was also not “at home” in Pakistan. She later lived in Germany, France, and Japan before settling in the United States. The concept of home—whether personal, geographical, national, spiritual, or familial—resonates throughout Zarina’s work. The lines that define her spaces are never anonymous; on the contrary, they are handcrafted and calligraphic. Although it appears in different guises throughout her oeuvre, her distinctive sense of line is the unifying element of her compositions, like an umbilical cord that ties her to this world regardless of where she is.
Zarina, who chooses to be referred to simply by her first name, was a prominent figure in feminist circles of the New York art scene in the 1970s. While her work has been featured in major exhibitions and is represented in important public collections, including those of the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, this exhibition marks the most comprehensive survey to date of her strikingly beautiful, contemplative, and poetic oeuvre.
Organizer Zarina: Paper Like Skin was organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and curated by Allegra Pesenti.
Sponsors The Art Institute of Chicago’s presentation is made possible through the generous support of Prabhakant and Anita Sinha and Anuradha and Arjun Aggarwal.
Additional support is provided by Diane and Richard Weinberg.
The exhibition was made possible by a major gift from Susan Steinhauser and Daniel Greenberg/The Greenberg Foundation.
Generous support was also provided by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.
6 hours 51 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago TOMORROW—We are excited to have artist Hebru Brantley taking over our Instagram feed for the day.
Follow along as Hebru shares inspirations from our collection and beyond: http://instagram.com/artinstitutechi
11 hours 2 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago Explore the trailblazing photography of Alfred Stieglitz and his circle like never before.
Our new comprehensive website provides rich historical context for nearly 250 photographs, along with a deeper understanding of the innovative photographic processes employed.
1 day 5 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW ON VIEW—Otis Kaye incorporated currency into a series of works as a commentary on the close relationship between art and commerce. Heart of the Matter shows a torn-up representation of Rembrandt’s Aristotle with a Bust of Homer with a stack of cash hanging from its center. The painting was purchased at the time for a record-breaking price. Kaye sought to critique the commercialism at the “heart” of the art world while paying tribute the great artists who make it possible.
See our new acquisition—Otis Kaye's Heart of the Matter—on view in Gallery 262.