Nasreen Mohamedi: From the collection of the Glenbarra Art Museum, Japan: D-53 Defence Colony, New Delhi

3 February - 2 March 2023
A special exhibition of curated works by late Indian modernist Nasreen Mohamedi, from the collection of the Glenbarra Art Museum, Japan, which will be on view during and after India Art Fair 2023. Mohamedi’s close friend and fellow artist Nilima Sheikh will address the audience at the preview, bringing her insightful energy to a corpus of over 40 works by the revered artist, including drawings, paintings and photographs from across the artist’s life.
Born in Karachi in 1937 to a wealthy and progressive family – with a long stay in Mumbai and briefly Bahrain – Nasreen Mohamedi studied at the St. Martin’s School of the Arts in London and later lived in Paris, where she worked in a printmaking atelier. She eventually settled in Baroda, where she taught art at Maharaja Sayajirao University.
Mohamedi was an iconoclast, whose intrinsic and essential modernist vocabulary framed a remarkable outlook on abstraction that marks one of the first non-Euro-American forays into non-representational art in post-Independence India. She was drawn to potent influences of high modernism varying from Western existentialism, propagated by thinkers like Albert Camus; the intersection of architectural principles and the fine arts, as nurtured by Le Corbusier in his design philosophy; and visual languages of abstraction explored by artists like V.S. Gaitonde, who like Mohamedi, went against the contemporary grain by eschewing figuration. Her free-spirited nature also intimated her with influences from Sufism, Daoism and Zen aesthetics, alongside a subliminal kinship with vast expanses of the desert and traditional Islamic architecture.
Historians note that Mohamedi was intensely aware of herself and her body particularly as moving through time, and she has been known to describe her own work as getting “the maximum out of the minimum”. Her embrace of minimalism in art conferred well with her philosophical orientation that recognized the self’s becoming equally as its negation, and considered other-ness through consciousness and construction. Such an unprecedented phenomenological approach – which intends to separate the self from the “thinking” self – resulted in a perceptual nature of phenomena and pre-occupations with whole-ness outside of cultural definition and dictation. Her diagrammatically composed drawings are constructed with enigmatic grace – marrying the functionality of the line to the spontaneity of rhythm, capable of translating the immediacy of environments by foregrounding an inner reality. Mohamedi’s deliberate yet sensual use of the line relates to geometric scales as much as music theory, and to the characteristic flutters of nature such as the stillness of air or the waves in space. Her iconic and frequent use of grids and lines in monochromatic compositions yield unique spatial environments, which grew out of a fixation with developing an individual formal vocabulary. Alongside Mohamedi’s preferred use of ink and paper, her paintings and photographs reflect varied experiments with art as extensions of human vision and also reveal a deeply curious impetus for personal archiving, which she further attempted through extensive diary entries.
Her work has been previously exhibited at renowned institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland; the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi; the Tate Modern, London; and her first retrospective in the US at the Met Breuer, New York. She was also the recipient of the National Award in Drawing by the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, in 1972.
Though Mohamedi was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder, she was able to retain control of her drawing hand for a few years, casting a heartfelt impressiveness on the solidity and steadiness of her work. She passed away in 1990, at the age of fifty-three.
We’re happy to welcome visitors to the gallery to view this special exhibition. For general inquiries, please write to