A DAY OF THINKING BEGINS – Nasreen Mohamedi, posted May 11th 2016 in Boulder

1 72 1200 Diary x NM Diarya detail from one of Nasreen Mohamedi’s notebooks, ca. 1968-1988, graphite and ink on paper

“ While the concept-use of immanence has been developed within contemporary philosophy on a vastly intensified scale, it may still be useful to understand immanence in the way it is ardently interpreted by artists: a willing subsumption within the cyclic transformation of nature; an embodiment of the life force-a bodying forth, a becoming; a means of precipitate presencing and liminal absencing within an always relational world. This ground overlaps with phenomenology-the precise sphere where the artist-as-subject, her perceptual experience, and art practice meet, and meld. Nasreen’s subject- presence is aligned to the horizontal axis, but her spatial conception reveals complex orientations: the stabilizing horizontal lifts to make a diagonal. Using this as metaphor, I tilt Nasreen’s philosophic inclination towards transcendence. Her drawings test the limit-veracity of the finite and attempt to scale what is conceptually possible in relation to an ultimate abstraction-the infinite.”

 – Quote from Geeta Kapur’s essay “Again a Difficult Task Begins” in the catalogue for the Nasreen Mohamedi exhibit Waiting Is a Part of Intense Living.

I have been processing this concept of immanence that Geeta Kapur so aptly describes in relationship to Nasreen Mohamedi’s practice since seeing the beautiful exhibition of Mohamadi’s work Waiting Is a Part of Intense Living at the Met Breuer in New York. The title of the exhibit comes from Nasreen Mohamedi’s extensive notebooks. I have been thinking about these notebooks/diaries as well as her stunningly simple black and white photographs and photograms. Mohamedi did not exhibit the photographs or the notebooks during her lifetime. So in viewing the notebooks and photographs we are gaining a bit of voyeuristic access to Mohamedi’s process and way of thinking and seeing. The notebooks are layered with ink markings and poetic text: aggregated evidence of how diligently and deeply she led her life – equally surveying and self-aware and marking it down.

2 72 1200 Diary June NasreensDiariesExcerpts1-1from one of Nasreen Mohamedi’s notebooks, ca. 1968-1988, graphite and ink on paper

 

3 72 1200 Diary September NasreensDiariesExcerpts1-1from one of Nasreen Mohamedi’s notebooks, ca. 1968-1988, graphite and ink on paper

 

I also loved seeing (in person) and in the catalogue so many of Mohamedi’s abstracted photos: of the warp on a loom; the stone patio at Fatehpur Sikri, sand and water on the beach, a desert building, etc. all are assiduously observant but also coursing towards a more abstracted absence of self and direct experience of phenomenon.

4 72 1200 photo NM weaving 685ca. 1970, silver gelatin print

 

5 72 1200 photo Fatehpur nasreen photoca. 1972, silver gelatin print

I also love her strange and wonderful photograms.

7 72 1200 photogram 00681 NM photogramca. 1970, black and white photogram

 

8 72 1200 photograms Nasreen_Mohamedi__Untitled_LORES

ca. 1970, black and white photogram

The drawings are a revelation and refinement of Mohamedi’s perspective that you see her developing in the journals and photographs. Here are just a few from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Again all untitled but I have given approximate dates. You can see what Kapur means in her essay that I quoted at the beginning:

“Nasreen’s subject- presence is aligned to the horizontal axis, but her spatial conception reveals complex orientations: the stabilizing horizontal lifts to make a diagonal. Using this as metaphor, I tilt Nasreen’s philosophic inclination towards transcendence. Her drawings test the limit-veracity of the finite and attempt to scale what is conceptually possible in relation to an ultimate abstraction-the infinite.”

 

1 72 1200 KNMA 1655ca. 1960, ink and watercolor

 

72 dpi KNMA 1623ca. 1965, ink and watercolor

 

72 dpi KNMA Untitled- Nasreen Mohamedi (1)ca. 1970, ink and graphite

 

4 72 1200 drawing mohamedica. 1975, graphite gouache and ink

6 72 1200 drawing NM.203 3ca. 1975, ink and graphite

 

72 1200 detail drawing NM 2-untitled-ca-1975ca. 1975, ink and graphite

 

A remarkable artist – I am so happy to have searched and found so much evidence of this artist’s life and work.

 

ea7477db-3776-4568-80ba-c4a189afb285_lportrait of Nasreen Mohamedi by artist Jyodi Bhatt , 1971

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