… they were in such a hurry to do partition. Radcliff came in – he didn’t know the country, he did not know Lahore is right next to Amritsar – he just sat at a table and drew a line, and sometimes the line goes right through a house and part of a house is in India and part of the house is in Pakistan. It is the greatest tragedy of the Indian sub-continent.
The themes of exile and relocation in Zarina Hashmi’s work are inspired by the devastating dividing line between India and Pakistan. Zarina and her family experienced the consequences of having been relocated to Karachi from Aligarh, India, in the 1950s, and in 1976 she settled in New York. 'Abyss', with its simple jagged line, hints at the complications that were to be the future of the subcontinent. The writer Neelika Jayawardane has eloquently described 'Abyss': ‘The zigzagging, shimmering silver line on a matte-black background appears the way a river might on a full-moon night, from an airplane; it is a route a lost traveller might follow in their blackest hour.’ It is a line that could be anywhere or nowhere.
woodcut on BFK light paper mounted on Somerset Antique paper
2/20 [from edition of 20, plus 2AP + 1 printer’s proof]
42.5 x 33.0 cm image, 69.8 x 55.8 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r., pencil "Zarina 2013".
Gift of the artist 2018
Shown in 1 exhibition
Fearless: contemporary South Asian art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 21 Jul 2018–13 Jan 2019