New York exhibits. A retrospective of the Indian modernist Nasreen Mohamedi (1937 – 1990) will open at The Met Breuer, the new location for The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s expanding modern and contemporary art program opening to the public 18 March 2016. The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, with the collaboration of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi.
Nasreen Mohamedi (18 March – 5 June 2016) at The Met Breuer, New York, is by far the most comprehensive exhibition of any Indian artist in the United States. With more than 150 works by Mohamedi on display, the exhibition brings to an international audience more than three
decades of her work, comprising of her few early oil paintings, collages, drawings in ink and graphite, watercolours, and photographs. Mohamedi rarely theorized or spoke about her work but documented her internal dialogue in a form of soliloquy, in tiny personal diaries and notebooks, some of which will be on display in the exhibition. The exhibition explores the conceptual complexity and visual subtlety that made her practice unique in its time.
In the history of Indian Modernism, Mohamedi remains a distinct figure who broke away from the dominant figurative-narrative mainstream practice and became one of the outstanding artists who pioneered the trajectory of non-representational and non-objective art in India, as well as creating a body of work vital to the evolution of international modernism and abstraction.
In cultivating an interiorised vision, Mohamedi sought to reflect beyond the familiar and the known, arriving at a pristine form of abstraction quite apart from her contemporaries. The grids and geometry she leaned toward in the 1970s were not without precedent though. In the West, closer to her time, were Piet Mondrian, Barnett Newman, Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Constructivists. Closer to home were the mystical traditions of the East that relied on geometry for a symbolic manifestation of the universe and its creative force. Drawing upon this range of inspirations, Mohamedi evolved her own formal vocabulary with delicate grids using only line, and this aesthetic informed and infused the photographs she took throughout her life.
Mohamedi’s practice has garnered serious attention within India and globally only in the last fifteen years. Though admired in her lifetime, she remained enigmatic and elusive, quite the reflection of her work – a distilled oeuvre that does not lend itself to ordinary comprehension. Through her uncompromising singular pursuit, Mohamedi arrived at a harmonious melding of the rational and the poetic, the philosophical and the mystical.
Kiran Nadar, Chairperson and Founder of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, “This is a momentous occasion for KNMA, having collaborated with two veteran institutions, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the United States and the Reina Sofia Museum in Spain, in bringing Nasreen Mohamedi’s individualistic/distinctive practice to the western world. The museum’s mandate is also focused on artists whose practice is yet to receive desiring attention and critical acclaim. We believe that their stories be told.”