Room 5: Elliptical Forms

Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled early 1980s

Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled early 1980s
© Collection of Gayatri Jhaveri & Priyam Jhaveri. Mumbai, India

Although Mohamedi continued working throughout the 1980s, she suffered increasingly from a rare muscle-wasting disease, similar to Parkinson’s disease. Her work became extremely difficult and the precision with which she drew required an enormous physical effort. Despite this, she continued to be inventive, and in the early 1980s began working with the elliptical form, influenced in part by her passion for music. She particularly liked classical Hindustani music, which she would often listen to in her studio. A friend recalls that it was the raga Miyan ki Todi that inspired Mohamedi’s preoccupation with the new form, as she felt that it was evocative of the music. A type of music based on improvisation, the raga is adapted by each performer and no two performances are the same. Mohamedi continued to work with the elliptical form, related to the abstract realm of ideas rather than the imperfect physical world, until her death in 1990.