Indian-born American printmaker and sculptor Zarina Hashmi died in London, poet and cultural theorist Ranjit Hoskote announced on Twitter on Sunday. She was 83.

“Heartbroken to hear that Zarina Hashmi has passed away in London,” Hoskote wrote on Twitter. “She was magnificent: full of wit and shrewd wisdom, her work imbued with a tragic vision. I was privileged to have her as one of my artists in India’s first-ever national pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 2011.”

Zarina, who preferred using only her first name, was born in Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh in 1937. She was one of the very few women among the Indian artists of her time. Through her work ranging from minimal drawing to printmaking and sculpture, she explored the ideas of home and distances.

In Zarina’s works, home is a fluid, abstract space that transcended physicality or location. Partition, migration and the loss of home were all recurring themes in the artist’s works. Home is a Foreign Place, Tears of the Sea, Phool and Letters from Home are some of her best known works.

Zarina’s interest in architecture was reflected in her works, especially her use of geometry and structural purity. She also made use of regular geometry found in Islamic architecture.

The artist’s work has been featured in major exhibitions and represented in important public collections, including those of the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Also read:

  1. The Art of Solitude: Zarina Hashmi’s painting of a void is a work of infinite mystery and power
  2. The artist of ideas: 81-year-old Zarina Hashmi’s new show revisits the themes of her life and work

Several artists took to Twitter to pay their tributes to Zarina. Here are some reactions:

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This plane of existence lost an incredible presence today. Zarina Hashmi was both grace and steely strength both in her work and countenance. When I first came to NYC, her name was on a list of people to look up, back in the days when the city felt so far from where my parents lived. In a constant battle with her landlords, living in a tiny studio where she cooked incredibly graceful meals, Zarina was quiet power personified. I am a better person for having known her and, in the way that life sweeps you up into one drama or another, I missed an opportunity to invest more into knowing her better. 😢 leaving just as the month of reflection begins is a perfect exit for her. Praying that she arrives peacefully into the realm of Beauty.

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