Reshma Azmi decided to pursue painting as her lifetime goal soon after the tenth grade, at which time she enrolled in the Fine Arts Program of the College of Arts and Crafts at the University of Lucknow in India. Here, for a period of five years, she got the opportunity to study and develop her art abilities, under the guidance of some extremely talented and well-known art teachers and artists. Since graduation from college, Reshma has painted relentlessly over the years, working on a wide variety of subjects. She has participated in several solo and group shows in India and the United States. Several of her painting series are currently on display in both public and private collections. She has explored various media including acrylic, oil, fabric, pencil, charcoal and watercolor. Her strongest interest, and the majority of her work, however, is in oils and acrylics.

When Reshma relocated from Lucknow, India to the California Bay Area in early 2005, she saw a magnolia for the first time. Since then, magnolias have appeared in her artwork on several occasions. But flowers and the natural world have always been a part of Reshma's artwork; for her, living in the United States has been not only an introduction to new experiences and cultural landscapes, but also an opportunity for reinterpretation of roads already traveled.

As an East Indian residing in the U.S., Reshma is acutely aware of the dichotomies between American and South Asian ways of life. While observing how American society expresses itself in the visual arena, Reshma has become particularly interested in what she reluctantly calls 'pop art' for lack of a better term: the de-emphasis of documentary depiction in favor of movement, texture, and pattern. She sees this 'zooming in,' as she calls it, everywhere in American society - fine arts, advertising, design, and even cinema - and she expects that it will influence her next set of paintings, which will evolve from the double-vision she has learned to embrace and even celebrate as an inevitable result of her immersion in a new culture.

A crucial aspect of Reshma's artistic expression is desire: sublimated, unfulfilled, suppressed, unspoken, or made manifest at great risk. The pleasant images in her paintings - birds, flowers, beautiful women, the tranquility of quiet rooms - typically belie a suggestion of loss, or danger, or quiet suffering. While growing up in India, Reshma painted this beauty/pain dichotomy because she saw it around her, in a close-knit, conservative society that often demands adherence to ancient traditions at the expense of personal choice. Now, she paints that dichotomy because, as she says, she sees it on the faces of Americans. She proposes that perhaps the freedom and openness of American society is accompanied by, or comes at the price of, the breakdown of family structures and the consequent isolation and loneliness.


Although her paintings are quite expressive, Reshma does not necessarily want the viewer to feel what she feels, or see what she sees. She hopes that viewers will be sufficiently intrigued to find their own meaning in her work.

Reshma Azmi resides in Oakland, California, with her husband, musician and artist T. Hallenbeck. She is currently working with colored pencil, mixed media, and a new series of oil paintings.

Reshma Azmi  |