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Item Description:



Ink and graphite on paper laid on board

1972

20 x 27 7/8 in. (50.9 x 70.8 cm.)

Acquired directly from the artist by and thence by descent

Nasreen Mohamedi has emerged as one of the most important artists in post-independence India. The significance of her practice is highlighted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s decision to host a retrospective of her work in the newly opened Met Breuer in New York; a space dedicated to expanding the Museum’s modern and contemporary art program. The exhibition marks the Museum’s first engagement with a 20th Century Indian artist and the artist’s first retrospective in the United States.


After studying art in London, Nasreen returned to Mumbai, the city of her childhood, in 1958. A fortuitous meeting with Madhuri Desai and her husband of the prestigious Bhulabhai Desai Institute, secured her a studio space at the artistic hub of the time. Here, she met most of the group now referred to as the Indian Modernists, including M.F. Husain, Krishen Khanna, Tyeb Mehta and Bal Chhabda. She found a mentor in Vasudev Gaitonde, and a friend in Jeram Patel, with whom she would work closely through the 1970s and 1980s when they were both at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Baroda.


She was an active photographer, and worked with the camera throughout her career. However, for the most part she did not consider the printed photograph the end of the artistic process, instead they served as preparatory works that she would then translate into an entirely different medium. More relevant are her diary entries, which very often consisted of both text and graphic images. Abbreviated sentences, verses from poems, various shapes and more pronounced darkened areas, all share a space that both reveal her innermost thoughts and provide unique insight into her artistic process.
‘

'Nasreen’s drawings, etched with precision instruments, are strictly ruled; they sometimes form a black mass with diamond shapes cut into them; they are shot through with radiating lines. Tense like arrows, echoes, shafts of light; penetrative, flying into the constellation, revolving like a satellite or a Martian disc. This complex graphic conjunction, a steeply positioned and delicately webbed wing is strung to yield a set of notes that splinter into echoes and traverse the elements in a series of repetitive sounds displaced in time. Yet the work remains optical – seeing as it through the telescope into stellar space and having it reflected back into the small orb of the eye.’ (Geeta Kapur, ‘Elegy for an Unclaimed Beloved: Nasreen Mohamedi (1937 – 1990)’, Nasreen in Retrospect, Mumbai, 1995, p. 17)


Nasreen’s works are complex and not easily defined or pinned down to the prevalent movements of her time. She is neither entirely minimalist, nor conceptual, ‘…Mohamedi’s drawings are not what they appear to be. They are not ‘minimalist’. That would not square with her goal of achieving the maximum. Nor are they ‘constructivist’. They are thought-processes rather than foregone conclusions. On the other hand, to call her drawings ‘metaphorical’ or ‘associative’ would be to underestimate how dependent they are on methodological deliberations, such as the sudden appearance of diagonals or curves in an otherwise rectilinear microcosm.’ (Andres Kreuger, ‘Making the Maximum of the Minimum: A Close Reading of Nasreen Mohamedi’, The Grid, Unplugged, exhibition catalogue, Talwar Gallery, New York, 2009, p. 72)

About The Artist:

NASREEN MOHAMEDI (1937 - 1990)

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