Following her formal training in the arts at St. Martin's School of Art in London, Nasreen Mohamedi moved back to India in 1958, well versed in Western Modernist practices. Living and working in Mumbai, Delhi, and then Baroda, where she also taught at the Faculty of Fine Arts of M.S. University, the artist developed and honed a unique, nonrepresentational idiom. It was this distinctive style, paired with Mohamedi's demanding practice, that helped her establish a space of her own within the largely figurative world of modern Indian art.
"In the history of Indian Modernism, Nasreen Mohamedi is a distinct figure who broke away from the mainstream art practice of the early decades of post-Independent India, choosing the less explored trajectory of the non-representational. Without engaging in reconfiguring the world in images, Nasreen was drawn to "space" and her art was inspired by both man-made environments, especially architecture, geometry as well as the underlying structures in Nature. The optical, metaphysical and mystical overlapped in her quest for a non-objective, non-material world." (R. Karode, 'a view to infinity NASREEN MOHAMEDI: A Retrospective', Kiran Nadar Museum of Art website, accessed October 2014)
This collection of Mohamedi's work from the 1970s, gifted by the artist to her close friend Neelam Mansingh, underscores both the versatility and virtuosity of her practice. While her minimalist works on paper, meticulously executed in ink and pencil, represent a meditative contemplation of line, grid, space and form influenced by architecture and manmade structures, Mohamedi's canvases speak more of her interest in the forms and configurations of the natural world.
"Mohamedi looks within the world, embracing the real and the social, both the peaceful environment of nature and its synthetic counterpart, the megalopolis. Rather than seeking refuge, or solitude, in a quiet place at a distance from the social world, Mohamedi often gravitated toward the harsh and tumultuous center. Yet her "lines among lines," in her phrase, share with [Agnes] Martin's sense of fluency and of the fleeting nondual nature of all." (C. Butler and C. Zegher, onLine: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, p. 81)
Mohamedi passed away in 1990 following a long struggle with a neurological disease that made it almost impossible for her to work. Besides being physically draining as a result of her illness, the artist's practice was always "marked by rigours of self-discipline and self-restraint. Through acts of renunciation - of figures, objects, narration, decoration and excess, she arrived at an interiorized vision articulated in a sparse aesthetics and frugal means of art making, using pencil and ink pen to plot a phenomenological experience and breathe life into her lines, that often remained restless and always at the edge to embrace a view to infinity." (R. Karode, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art website, accessed October 2014)
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF NEELAM MANSINGH CHOWDHRY