Monthly Archives: November 2020

7 reasons why Zarina Hashmi is my latest art crush….

How do you not fall for a person who said, I always had a suitcase ready….suppose I had to go somewhere?  Or, when speaking about her art (reason number two) she said,  My work is connected to language and to poetry. You know, my work is about writing.  The image follows the word.

January, 2020, I saw some of Zarina’s work in Marking Time: Process in Minimal Abstraction at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC.

Untitled, Zarina Hashmi, 1977, 20 sheets of needle pierced laminated paper, Guggenheim image

Untitled, Zarina, 1977, T. Vatrt image

Untitled, Zarina, 1977, T. Vatrt image

Untitled, Zarina, 1977, T. Vatrt image

Untitled, Zarina, 1977, punctured paper, T. Vatrt image

I was fascinated by her use of paper. In these works, paper is everything, with nothing added to create the image – rather it is the manipulation of the paper that results in the art.  The paper is the support,  the medium, and the subject.  (Reasons number 3 and 4:  shared love of paper and the manipulation of paper to create images and structures)

After watching this 12 minute video from the Hammer Museum, I was completely smitten with Zarina Hashmi. In the video, Ms Hashmi speaks about her life, and her work.  Not only is it a well produced, informative film, it reminded me that I saw the show Zarina: Paper like Skin  when it traveled to  The Art Institute of Chicago in 2013.  At the time I remember thinking Wow!  A printmaker! This is beautiful, meaningful work….from someone I’ve never heard about before. (Reason number 5:  good art stays with us and repeatedly delights us)

Zarina Hashmi was born in India, but was, truly, a citizen of the world.  She earned a degree in mathematics and studied printmaking (reason number 6) in Bangkok, Tokyo , and, notably, in Paris, at the renowned print shop, Atelier 17.

I just made my personal life the subject of my art. So I have to write about what I’ve gone through.  Oh, it’s very painful. I have opened up my life to the scrutiny of strangers.  (reason number 7:  her honesty)

Luhring Augustine in New York City has a good website with images of her work, and biographical information. This short video from the Tate will solidify your admiration for this artist – at least, it did for me.

Zarina Hashmi, Tate.org.uk image

 

 

 

Attention ~ Caribou Crossing

The Art Caravan enjoys multi-genre artistic projects.  Think of Michael Oondatje’s book, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, or The Memory Palace , multi-sensory installations by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller and Sarah Anne Johnson’s thematic work which uses photography as a springboard to other visual interpretations.  The works are complex in form, and meaning – the best kind of art, don’t you think?  It challenges us, the audience,  to ask questions, examine preconceptions, interpret freely.

Maureen Gruben‘s exhibition Tuktuuyaqtuuk (Caribou Crossing) at the Legacy Gallery is a fascinating combination of poetry, installation and sculpture, documenting a life unfamiliar to many of us.  Born and raised in Tuktoyaktuk, Ms Gruben’s work reflects life in the Western Arctic.

Infinite # 13, Maureen Gruben, 2020

Infinite # 13, Maureen Gruben, 2020

Infinite # 13, Maureen Gruben, 2020

Infinite # 13, Maureen Gruben, 2020

Tuktoyaktuk (English) / Tuktuuyaqtuuk (Inuvialuktun) means Looks like a Caribou. Initially, it was jarring to see that several of the pieces are composed of different parts of a caribou.  Consider  this untitled piece, below.  Imagine my surprise, and curiosity, when I discovered the main structure is a caribou heart sac – the membrane that contains the muscle of the heart.  Its translucent beauty is transformed into a nest like object – a symbol of (perhaps?) home, nurture, growth, life.

untitled, Maureen Gruben, 2020

untitled, Maureen Gruben, 2020

Superseded  is the foundational piece of the show.  Its colour commands immediate attention while the other artworks seem to reflect the natural Arctic palette. The  manufactured, hard-edged materials used in this piece contrast vividly with her wide-ranging use of natural materials in the other works.

Superseded, Maureen Gruben, 2020

Superseded, Maureen Gruben, 2020

With Superseded, Ms Gruben repurposes the red tin plates (government issued markers) that were used to divide the land into distinct ownership parcels.  The beautiful line of soldering overlaying the plates could echo the wandering journeys of the caribou, and, presumably, their hunters.  Such a line is also found in caribou skulls. How curious is that?

Superseded, Maureen Gruben, 2020

Superseded, Maureen Gruben, 2020

Challenging questions about ownership, settlement, indigenous life, and boundaries emerge….but subtly, like the fine line in a caribou skull, or the delicacy of a heart sac. Superseded does what good art can do – give visual pleasure, as well as challenge us intellectually and emotionally.

This five minute video from the Legacy Gallery is a tour of the exhibition, with commentary.  It’s worth watching, especially for people unable to view the works in person.  I’m happy to report the show is on for another two weeks, so I will see it again.