Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled early to mid 1960s

Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled early to mid 1960s

© Courtesy Paul Aggarwal

Nasreen Mohamedi (1937 –1990) occupies a unique position within Indian art history and the history of international modernism, producing a distinctive body of work which moved from naturalistic representations of her surroundings to stark minimal abstractions. 

Mohamedi was born in Karachi, in present-day Pakistan, relocating to Mumbai in 1944, just three years before Indian Independence separated these two countries in 1947. Having completed a degree in fine art at St. Martin’s School of Art, London in 1957, she worked at a printmaking atelier in Paris from 1961 to 1963. After returning to India from Europe, she set up her studio in Delhi before moving to Baroda in 1972 where she lived until her death in 1990. 

Mohamedi rarely dated or signed her work, however loose chronological phases have been identified through remembrances of her friends and family. The works in this room are from the 1960s and include watercolours, ink on paper, oil on canvas and collage. Influenced in part by Japanese calligraphy, they show Mohamedi’s early interest in natural forms, revealing how detail began to be stripped from her lines to create increasingly abstract impressions of what she saw. Her students have recalled her enthusiasm for observing trees over time, watching the shapes that shifting light created. A dominant form emerging in these works is that of the triangle, relating to branches and leaves, which would recur within her practice in later life. This room also includes two of the few works that Mohamedi dated and signed in 1969.