Kaghaz Ke Ghar

Zarina Hashmi at Gallery Espace ♦

hashmi_roofsNew York-based Zarina Hashmi has lived in homes all over the world and it is fitting that her retrospective is titled Kaghaz ke Ghar/Paper Houses. Spanning two decades (1979-99), the exhibition showcases Hashmi’s innovative use of paper in three dimensions, although it includes etchings as well. Made by pouring paper pulp into moulds and then shaping or adding elements, the sculptures are architectural and elegant, pushing the medium of paper to new forms.

Fragile and yet malleable, paper is a good medium for an artist whose work deals with themes of creating personal space that can be easily moved, shifted or destroyed. “Displaced People/Displaced Homes” most directly makes the connection between flimsy paper dwellings and the narratives people tell themselves to create a sense of home. The sculpture is made up of several prints – each cut and stacked separately in the shape of a house – that are bundled together and to each other with cord. Here, the cord could represent narrative – the thread that actually holds people together when permanent structure is missing.

Other works are less political and more personal. “Flight Log”, an early piece, alludes to Hashmi’s experience learning to fly a glider. Other works – such as the “Pool” series – are more contemplative, drawing in the viewer as a Zen garden might. As Hashmi says, “Home is the centre of my universe; I make a home wherever I am. My home is my hiding place, a house with four walls, sometimes with four wheels.”

In a recent interview, Hashmi stated that she also finds a home in her art, and this exhibition is an open invitation into that sometimes peaceful, sometimes provoking place.

Originally published in Time Out Delhi.