Press Releases : 2009/02

'Nasreen Mohamedi: Notes – Reflections on Indian Modernism (Part 1)'

Published 2009/02/25

Nasreen Mohamedi, unititled, Courtesy of the Glenbarra Art Museum Collecttion, Japan

Norsk versjon

6 MARCH – 20 JUNE 2009

Press Preview: 5 March 14:00 – 16:00
Public Opening: 5 March 18:00 – 20.00

Public Programme
Saturday, 7 March / 14:00 – 17:00: 'Nasreen Mohamedi: The Legacy of Indian Abstraction'
Friday, 6 March / 19:00 – 21:00: 'Form, Politics, Spectatorship: documenta 12 as a Case Study

The Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) is proud to announce the first solo exhibition in Europe of Nasreen Mohamedi, as part of a wider programme tracing alternative modernisms. Mohamedi (1937–1990) is regarded as one of the most important Indian artists of her generation, and her paintings, drawings and photographs, produced from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, constitute a key body of work within the modernist canon.

Mohamedi studied in London and Paris during the late 1950s and early 60s, and returned to India to teach at the Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University in Baroda. In India, her austere, small-scale drawings and use of minor gestures contrasted with the figurative narrative works produced by many of her contemporaries. In art-historical terms, Mohamedi's practice can be seen in relation to an earlier generation of Indian abstract artists such as V.S. Gaitonde, and from an international perspective to works on paper by Agnes Martin or, through its invocation of utopian abstraction, to Kazimir Malevich and the Suprematists. While her drawings from the late 1970s onwards tend toward the resolutely abstract, they intimate cultural references which become explicit in her photographs – in which historical architecture suggests an aesthetic link to both modernisation and an Islamic heritage. In Mohamedi's diaries, made over a period of thirty years, textual and graphic interventions also attest to the close links between her inner life and her practice as an artist.

This exhibition, curated by Suman Gopinath and Grant Watson, will bring together for the first time Mohamedi's rarely seen drawings, paintings and photographs with unique archival material from her studio, and provide the occasion to further position her practice both within the history of Indian art and in relation to an international avant-garde. Previous exhibitions of her work include the Third Indian Triennale (New Delhi, India, 1975), Jehangir Art Gallery (Mumbai, India, 1991), 'Drawing Space: Contemporary Indian Drawing', inIVA (London, UK, 2000), 'Nasreen Mohamedi: Lines among Lines', The Drawing Center (New York, USA, 2005), documenta 12 (Kassel, Germany, 2007) and 'Nasreen Mohamedi: The Grid Unplugged', Talwar Gallery (New York, 2008). The exhibition includes important loans from the Sikander family, Mumbay, India, the Glenbarra Art Museum Collection, Japan, and Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai, India.

'Nasreen Mohamedi: Notes – Reflections on Indian Modernism (Part 1)' is part of 'Reflections on Indian Modernism', a comprehensive programme of public projects and residencies organised by Gopinath and Watson for OCA and CoLab Art & Architecture, Bangalore, India. This programme aims to revisit recent Indian art history, recuperating legacies of avant-garde practice and archiving lesser-known bodies of work that slip between genres and schools. The collaboration also comprises a residency programme for Norwegian artists at CoLab. The first of these residencies involved the participation of Lene Berg in the round-table discussion in New Dehli.

About the Curators

Suman Gopinath is a curator and the founder and director of CoLab Art & Architecture, Bangalore, India. Grant Watson is a curator at the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (MuHKA), Antwerp, Belgium. Gopinath and Watson, together with Anshuman Dasgupta, organised the exhibition 'The Santhal Family: Positions around an Indian Sculpture' at MuHKA in 2008. Gopinath and Watson have been collaborating on exhibitions of modern and contemporary Indian art since 1999.

About Public Programme

'Form, Politics, Spectatorship: Documenta 12 as a Case Study

Friday, 6 March 2009 / 19:00 – 21:00

This panel will focus on documenta 12 (Kassel, Germany, 2007), an exhibition that constituted an important example of how display strategies affect the experience of artworks, and included artists such as Charlotte Posenenske, Sanja Iveković and Nasreen Mohamedi. The panel, which will include the two curators of the exhibition, Ruth Noack and Roger M. Buergel, will discuss the relationship between written discourse and the exhibition of works; the notion of form and its relation to the political legacy of constructivism; and the possibility of education within an exhibition context. Other participants will includeMichael Leja, Professor of art history at the University of Pennsylvania and recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (2008),Peter Osborne, Professor of modern European philosophy and director of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University, London and Suely Rolnik, psychoanalyst, critic and curator based in São Paulo, Brazil

'Nasreen Mohamedi: The Legacy of Indian Abstraction'

Saturday, 7 March 2009 / 14:00 – 17:00

This panel will focus on the work of Nasreen Mohamedi. One of the most important artists of her generation, Mohamedi made from the early 1960s to the late 1980s a series of abstract paintings, drawings and photographs that constitute a key body of work within the modernist canon. Speakers including artists, curators and art historians will explore her work in detail and reflect on her position within the history of Indian Modernism, as well as in the context international avant-garde movements, and examine the possibility of rewriting art history from a non-Western perspective. Participants will include Deepak Ananth, art historian, curator and lecturer at the École des Beaux-Arts, Caen, France, Rasheed Araeen, artist, writer, curator and founding editor of Third Text, London, Anita Dube, artist, art historian and critic based in Delhi, India, Ruth Noack, art historian, lecturer, critic and curator of documenta 12, Suely Rolnik, psychoanalyst, critic and curator based in São Paulo, Brazil and Daniel J. Rycroft, art historian at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

This programme has been supported by O3–funds as underwritten by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for enhancing collaboration in the contemporary art field with professional artists in countries designated by the MFA. The purpose of the O3–funds as allocated to OCA is to further develop cooperation and professional networking between OCA and the constituency of artists, independent cultural producers, and organisations that are located in designated countries. This includes but is not limited to 'professional research visits by cultural producers, artists, and curators', 'short-term residencies for cultural producers and artists', seminars, conferences, art projects, workshops, etc. that focus on the further development of professional exchange and networking between and among countries', and 'project development (and pilot projects) on an international scale'.

For more information on the exhibition, the panel discussion or the overall project, please contact Marthe Tveitan at