When you first look at Seher Hashmi (26), you see a talkative, flamboyant girl with multiple inks and body piercings. She is like the college best friend you used to go shopping with and the one you bunked classes with. What one does not see instantly is years of childhood trauma and attempts to deal with depression. After her struggle, Seher has made art her medium to share her silences, fears, hope and resilience.
Seher Hashmi is presenting her artworks under the title ‘Untangling Thoughts’ at RKG Art Gallery, New Friends Colony, Delhi from May 28-May 31, 2022. She makes use of ink pens, markers and poster colours to express strong personal feelings and emotions. They represent her relationship with the outside world, inner self, anger and joy, conflicts and resolutions. For her, her art is a Seher ‘morning’ to hazy thoughts and deep-seated darkness.
Seher shares that after being adopted by her family, for many years, no one could understand what was wrong with her. Her life was slowly being engulfed by darkness, and suicidal thoughts whose origin she did not know. After being diagnosed with depression, she dealt with finding the right therapist and the right treatment. The social judgement brought her further down. In 2016, after persuasion by her therapist and family, she picked up ink pens, markers and colours to express herself. The result was an array of abstracts and a regained confidence.
Without any formal training, she transforms her moods into paintings. Many of the paintings tell a personal tale- a girl surrounded by a circle of thoughts contemplates her life. One half is hope, the other is darkness; an empty swing with a day dedicated to a lost aunt, and a jumbled mess resembling her tangled thoughts and a girl with uncombed hair.
Seher says, “Most of my paintings represent my life. I remember days when I could not gather the strength to get up from the bed and comb my hair. Generally, the colours represent my happiness, and the black and whites show my struggle.”
In many of her paintings, trees wth their underlying roots, or withering leaves stand out. These colours are not necessarily reflective of nature, but her various moods. “I love drawing trees, their presence represents growth to me. It is a process of withering and rejuvenation, much like our own selves,” says Seher.
Another section of her work consists of bright and colourful mandala art designs. These include patterns of crisscrossing lines reflecting her inner conflict. In her own words, Mandalas remind her of herself. “Messed up, yet organized."
Seher feels that mental health is easily ignored by people, who simply give absurd bits of advice. She feels unlike physical ailments, victims of mental health disorders are never given the care or love that they need.
Apart from her sketching, Seher also writes poetry occasionally. After starting a discourse on mental health, Seher found other people who are dealing with mental health issues. She is grateful that her journey has motivated others to deal with their disorders.
One of her most read poems ‘Colouring the wounds away’ read,
“But now I make sure, that I take it all out on paper,
And not myself, I start to feel better,
Painting by painting, colour by colour,
I start to feel better,
each colour tells how I feel,
Sometimes happy and sometimes sad.”
Through her art, poetry and dialogue, Seher has certainly come a long way. Her continuous fight and strength are not only a personal achievement but go a long way in the fight to bust taboos around mental health. You can meet Seher amidst her expressive paintings today and on May 31, 2022, from 3 pm to 8 pm.