Salima Hashmi: The True Artist

It is said that there is no true definition of an artist anymore since the term artist has become fluid and ever changing. However, that certainly does not mean that there is an ambiguity in recognizing true artists. According to Don Ellis “to be a true artist you have to play the way you feel – not the way others think or should feel.”  No wonder Salima being one of a kind had immensely contributed to the society as a renowned artist, painter, curator, contemporary art historian and as an educationist.  Salima was born in New Delhi in 1942 during the British Raj to Alys and the most celebrated poet of the Indian Subcontinent Faiz Ahmad Faiz.  Salima’s family had always been politically and socially active owing to the fact that both her parents were Journalists by profession.  Faiz being a leftist poet and an author and his wife being a journalist and a peace activist played a significant role in shaping Salima’s political thought.  Faiz Ahmad Faiz owing to his political views had even faced imprisonment therefore Salima cannot efface the memory of visiting jail with her sister. Salima’s love for arts led her to study design at the prestigious National College of Arts (NCA).  Two years later Salima joined the Bath Academy of Arts England and graduated in photography, painting and filmmaking.  Her inexhaustible love for arts is evident from the fact that she also studied at the Rhode School of Design US.  Salima has chosen painting for the most part as the medium of art to vent her feelings associated with memories of repressive regimes during her impressionable years.  Her paintings clearly depict her dissatisfaction over the political and social uncertainties that Pakistan has experienced over the years.  Some of her paintings show abstract figures indicating the struggle women experience in a patriarchal society. Salima is married to Mr. Shoaib Hashmi who besides being a Television personality had served as a professor at the Government College University, Lahore. Mr. and Mrs. Hashmi are blessed with a son and a daughter and live a happy life. Salima and Shoaib Hashmi gained unprecedented fame through puppetry and distinctive comedy shows such as Akar Bakar, Taal Matol and Such Gup.   Mr. Hashmi kept child audiences busy by translating Sesame Street into Urdu while Salima was serving at NCA.  Salima after investing 31 years of her life at NCA eventually retried at the post of Principal.  Currently Salima is the Dean of Beacon House National University’s school of visual arts and design.

Here are some less Known Interesting facts about Salima  Hashmi

  • Salima has been vocal since the 1980’s about human rights especially the rights of the oppressed.
  • In furtherance to her advocacy of human rights she also launched Women’s Action Forum promoting women’s rights.
  • She has been a recipient of the Presidents’ pride of performance for arts award.
  • In the recent past she had been closely working with India in the field of arts.
  • Her work has been exhibited all over the world and she has lectured extensively.
  • She is well known for her quick wit and ability to analyze.

Besides authoring books such as, Lives and works of women Artists of Pakistan, Unveiling the Visible she has co-authored a book with Yashodhara  Dalmia. Her co-authored book Memory, Metaphor, Mutations and Contemporary arts of India and Pakistan with Dalmia reveals how exchange of cinema, music and contemporary art has created new identity.  Salima plans to translate her father’s poetry into English sometime soon.  She also runs her own art gallery at her father’s house in Model Town Lahore.  Yolo wishes health, happiness and long life to Salima Hashmi the true artist of Pakistan.



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