image above: Nasreen Mohamedi, c. 1970’s, 18″ x 18″, graphite and ink
look’s something like the image I saw at the National Gallery
Yesterday my new Australian artist friend Genevieve found two beautiful Nasreen Mohamedi drawings at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi. It was the end of a very long day. We were looking at Indian art from the Indus Valley (see the image of the Dancing Girl 2500 B.C. below) all the way to Indian art of contemporary times with a group of artists from the residency. We were getting ready to go back to Sanskriti and the National Gallery was closing when Genevieve found me and said “I found her.”
We made our way back through 100’s of pieces of contemporary art to a corner of the National Gallery where two large Nasreen Mohmedi drawings are showing, or really almost disappearing or transmuting amongst her fellow Indian artists. Mohamedi’s drawings are right next to a large Zarina Hashmi (b 1937,) a contemporary of Mohamedi’s who is still working and lives in New York. Mohamedi’s two drawings: delicate, intricate, infinite, simple. The guard would not let me photograph these works. I could not photograph them anyway with the glass and the bad light. But I was so excited and not disappointed after my long journey.
As Genevieve said, if this work is about the lack of the ego or self-naughting then it is very appropriate that it is so difficult to find and to see and certainly to photograph. It is like she is drawing space, time and sound or a score for a transcendent prayer. I see the connections to calligraphy, to music, to poetry – but there is also no reference. There is certainly a relationship to the work of Agnes Martin, as has been pointed out, and I also see a relationship with Sol Lewitt’s work – but it is also very different. As my friend Cydney said; her work is singular.
I don’t think I can emulate this work, but it definitely has its way with me. I am so glad to see her work “in person” for the first time in India amongst her contemporaries. It is unprecedented here. I love the work anywhere, and I will try to search for more of her work here in Delhi and I will search it out as it travels the world.
I have pictured below, some drawings that are similar to the ones I saw at the National Gallery, but not the same ones. These drawings were shown at the Talwar Gallery in New York. The drawings I saw yesterday seemed more intricate, but perhaps this is the nature of seeming them “in person.” I also posted Zarina Hashmi’s image “Cage”, again not the one I saw yesterday hanging next to Mohamedi. “Cage” is in the Whitney Collection in New York. I also posted Zarina’s “My House.” I think Zarina’s work is actually more like my own work than Nasreen’s, but it is not as compelling for me. I have also posted an image of the Dancing Girl from the Indus Valley Civilization, 2500 BC. I am feeling a bit exhausted but also very excited.