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PROPERTY FROM THE ARTIST’S FAMILY

Oil on canvas
36 1/4 × 60 in. (92 × 152.4 cm.)

EXHIBITED:
Nasreen Mohamedi: The Vastness, Again & Again, Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation & Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai, 31 January - 28 May, 2023.
Nasreen Mohamedi Waiting is a Part of Intense Living, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 18 March - 5 June, 2016.
Nasreen Mohamedi Waiting is a Part of Intense Living, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, 22 September, 2015 - 11 January, 2016.

LITERATURE:
Nasreen Mohamedi: The Vastness, Again & Again, exhibition catalogue, Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation & Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai, 2023, p. 2 & p. 60, illustrated.
Nasreen Mohamedi Waiting is a Part of Intense Living, exhibition catalogue, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid & The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2016, p. 61, illustrated.

Nasreen Mohamedi has emerged as one of the most important artistic voices in post-independence India, gaining critical recognition both within the country and internationally. She embraced a minimal approach in her practice, rejecting a figurative language in favour of linear, monochromatic creations, re-interpreted in different ways and mediums over the course of a short but intense career.

Born in Karachi in 1937, Nasreen moved to Mumbai with her family in 1945, shortly before India was divided into two countries. After studying art at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London from 1954-1957, Nasreen returned to Mumbai in 1958. A fortuitous meeting with Madhuri Desai and her husband of the prestigious Bhulabhai Desai Institute secured her a studio space at this epicentre of creativity and artistic practice. Here, she met most of the group now referred to as the Indian Modernists, including M.F. Husain, Krishen Khanna, Tyeb Mehta and Bal Chhabda. She found a mentor in Vasudev Gaitonde, and a friend in Jeram Patel, with whom she would work closely through the 1970s and 1980s when they were both at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Baroda.

Gaitonde, in particular, became an important influence in her early years, and while at the Bhulabhai Institute, the two discovered their common love of the sea and all the possibilities the seemingly calm surface contained within its swirling depths. Besides the coastline of Mumbai, Nasreen spent considerable time at her family home on the beach in Kihim outside of Mumbai, which also contributed to her love of open expanses and distant horizons. Gaitonde, on the other hand, found contentment looking out at the sea, conveniently located opposite the Bhulabhai Institute in Breach Candy. He spent many an afternoon contemplating the slow but consistent movements playing out on the surface of the water; the horizon providing a reassuring constant in the duel between the tides and the phases of the Moon.

In a recently held retrospective at the Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation in Mumbai in 2023 (where the current canvas was also exhibited), the curator chose to strategically display a Nasreen canvas from the same period as the current work alongside a Gaitonde canvas from the 1960s, allowing viewers the chance to enjoy them individually, but also to view them together and contemplate the multiple levels on which Gaitonde’s thinking and painting process inspired the younger artist to create as she did during those years.

Nasreen worked on canvases for only a brief period in her career (from the late 1950s to the early 1960s), putting aside the large format and complexities of working in oil for the intimacy and simplicity of working with ink or graphite on paper for the rest of her short career. The current example, is therefore, a rare example of her working on an easel with multiple pigments and brushes of varying thicknesses. Executed primarily in pale shades of grey, the composition remains semi-abstract, strongly evocative of the sea washing unhurriedly up on shore; the thinly applied layers of pigment forming naturally occurring horizontal sections that create a gently watered down, lyrical surface. Smaller forms in contrasting shades of brown and darker grey emerge from its recesses, much as objects remain washed up on the beach once the waves recede into the depths of the ocean. In addition to the darker, geometric shadows that appear on the canvas, there are also spindly, wire-like linear forms that emerge; a precursor of the next chapter of Nasreen’s artistic journey, where she focuses on an exploration of free-flowing minimal lines and forms in smaller formats.

Several diary entries from the 1960s describe Nasreen’s reaction to the beach and the sea. While some are graphic visual descriptions of the landscape, others are more emotionally evocative of how being by the sea made her feel.

‘13th May 1968, Kihim

Each year one comes back, at times to discover something tiny – sometimes it carries away – far away from any form of constructive work I have been thinking – an instict [sic] tells me that I must go on – also I am aware when I am false. This is the knowledge that drives one to despair – despair of a distinctive nature, which if one has the strength to stare hard at, makes one stronger or one is driven to compromises and further compromises. It is so easy to talk abot [sic] these theories, one has to live them. Live simply with the knowledge that all is change – thus so interesting and wittily alive.

At times frightening – throwing one into an abyss – the abyss is imporant [sic].

Lines, circles, dots, traces of texture, beatings on the beach, slow changes in rocks, weaving and polishing of pebbles, each wave a destiny which ends in one breath, a swaying of the palms and in one sway – all, everything. It all denotes change, change, change – nothing repetitive. Everything moving – grains of sands, all change is inevitable – only the grasping of it is as difficult as important. One has to grasp this entirely and wholly – then there is growth, progress – one walks with it whether it is slow or fast – it is then strong. All these lines, circles, dots on the beach are for a few hours – even then changing each moment with the wind and its own durability–to reach further designs and destinies.’

(Nasreen Mohamedi, diary excerpt, reprinted in Nasreen in Retrospect, Mumbai, 1995, p. 87)

Interestingly, Gaitonde’s works from this period are similar in concept with serene, meditative expanses created by his newly begun experiments with a roller. These flat surfaces were broken only by the appearance of a textured horizon dissecting the picture plane, usually with the use of a palette knife in a darker colour. ‘Gaitonde’s canvases of the same period transacted, in a sweep of calligraphic capture/ rapture, the energies of the visible/ invisible, natural and human-made, all merged onto a single plane in various configurations.’ (Roobina Karode, ‘Waiting is a Part of Intense Living’, Nasreen Mohamedi Waiting is a Part of Intense Living, exhibition catalogue, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, and, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2016, p. 24)

‘Nasreen and Gai are two Indian painters whose work automatically separates itself from the mainstream of Indian abstraction at this time by a certain quality of objectivity, a sense of restraint and a degree of technical finish.

While most abstractionists in this country start by breaking up a given object into planes or by an attempt to fracture the picture-plane or to impose on it a set of symbols, they do not.

They accept space. For both, disciplined space-use means rhythm. From this point on, Nasreen has moved into a tighter vocabulary of linear geometry, while Gai increasingly identifies himself with open-structuredness.’

(Pria Karunakar, ‘V.S. Gaitonde’, Lalit Kala Contemporary 19 & 20, New Delhi, April – September 1975, p. 16)
Condition: The colours of the original are cooler in the grey tones with less overall contrast between colours than the catalogue illustration. The background grey pigment has been applied in thin layers to the canvas and rubbing and abrasions are visible on the extreme edges of upper left and right side of canvas. Two further small abrasions along the upper edge reveal the canvas weave beneath. The canvas has been re- lined. When examined under UV light, the lower right quadrant shows a few areas of consolidation with associated re-touching, including four spots right along the upper part of the quadrant and some smaller areas along the lower right edge. Further re- touching is seen in the lower left corner and a larger line approximately 4 inches up from the lower left edge. Overall good condition.

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Time, Location
25 Apr 2024
India, Mumbai
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[ translate ]

PROPERTY FROM THE ARTIST’S FAMILY

Oil on canvas
36 1/4 × 60 in. (92 × 152.4 cm.)

EXHIBITED:
Nasreen Mohamedi: The Vastness, Again & Again, Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation & Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai, 31 January - 28 May, 2023.
Nasreen Mohamedi Waiting is a Part of Intense Living, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 18 March - 5 June, 2016.
Nasreen Mohamedi Waiting is a Part of Intense Living, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, 22 September, 2015 - 11 January, 2016.

LITERATURE:
Nasreen Mohamedi: The Vastness, Again & Again, exhibition catalogue, Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation & Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai, 2023, p. 2 & p. 60, illustrated.
Nasreen Mohamedi Waiting is a Part of Intense Living, exhibition catalogue, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid & The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2016, p. 61, illustrated.

Nasreen Mohamedi has emerged as one of the most important artistic voices in post-independence India, gaining critical recognition both within the country and internationally. She embraced a minimal approach in her practice, rejecting a figurative language in favour of linear, monochromatic creations, re-interpreted in different ways and mediums over the course of a short but intense career.

Born in Karachi in 1937, Nasreen moved to Mumbai with her family in 1945, shortly before India was divided into two countries. After studying art at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London from 1954-1957, Nasreen returned to Mumbai in 1958. A fortuitous meeting with Madhuri Desai and her husband of the prestigious Bhulabhai Desai Institute secured her a studio space at this epicentre of creativity and artistic practice. Here, she met most of the group now referred to as the Indian Modernists, including M.F. Husain, Krishen Khanna, Tyeb Mehta and Bal Chhabda. She found a mentor in Vasudev Gaitonde, and a friend in Jeram Patel, with whom she would work closely through the 1970s and 1980s when they were both at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Baroda.

Gaitonde, in particular, became an important influence in her early years, and while at the Bhulabhai Institute, the two discovered their common love of the sea and all the possibilities the seemingly calm surface contained within its swirling depths. Besides the coastline of Mumbai, Nasreen spent considerable time at her family home on the beach in Kihim outside of Mumbai, which also contributed to her love of open expanses and distant horizons. Gaitonde, on the other hand, found contentment looking out at the sea, conveniently located opposite the Bhulabhai Institute in Breach Candy. He spent many an afternoon contemplating the slow but consistent movements playing out on the surface of the water; the horizon providing a reassuring constant in the duel between the tides and the phases of the Moon.

In a recently held retrospective at the Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation in Mumbai in 2023 (where the current canvas was also exhibited), the curator chose to strategically display a Nasreen canvas from the same period as the current work alongside a Gaitonde canvas from the 1960s, allowing viewers the chance to enjoy them individually, but also to view them together and contemplate the multiple levels on which Gaitonde’s thinking and painting process inspired the younger artist to create as she did during those years.

Nasreen worked on canvases for only a brief period in her career (from the late 1950s to the early 1960s), putting aside the large format and complexities of working in oil for the intimacy and simplicity of working with ink or graphite on paper for the rest of her short career. The current example, is therefore, a rare example of her working on an easel with multiple pigments and brushes of varying thicknesses. Executed primarily in pale shades of grey, the composition remains semi-abstract, strongly evocative of the sea washing unhurriedly up on shore; the thinly applied layers of pigment forming naturally occurring horizontal sections that create a gently watered down, lyrical surface. Smaller forms in contrasting shades of brown and darker grey emerge from its recesses, much as objects remain washed up on the beach once the waves recede into the depths of the ocean. In addition to the darker, geometric shadows that appear on the canvas, there are also spindly, wire-like linear forms that emerge; a precursor of the next chapter of Nasreen’s artistic journey, where she focuses on an exploration of free-flowing minimal lines and forms in smaller formats.

Several diary entries from the 1960s describe Nasreen’s reaction to the beach and the sea. While some are graphic visual descriptions of the landscape, others are more emotionally evocative of how being by the sea made her feel.

‘13th May 1968, Kihim

Each year one comes back, at times to discover something tiny – sometimes it carries away – far away from any form of constructive work I have been thinking – an instict [sic] tells me that I must go on – also I am aware when I am false. This is the knowledge that drives one to despair – despair of a distinctive nature, which if one has the strength to stare hard at, makes one stronger or one is driven to compromises and further compromises. It is so easy to talk abot [sic] these theories, one has to live them. Live simply with the knowledge that all is change – thus so interesting and wittily alive.

At times frightening – throwing one into an abyss – the abyss is imporant [sic].

Lines, circles, dots, traces of texture, beatings on the beach, slow changes in rocks, weaving and polishing of pebbles, each wave a destiny which ends in one breath, a swaying of the palms and in one sway – all, everything. It all denotes change, change, change – nothing repetitive. Everything moving – grains of sands, all change is inevitable – only the grasping of it is as difficult as important. One has to grasp this entirely and wholly – then there is growth, progress – one walks with it whether it is slow or fast – it is then strong. All these lines, circles, dots on the beach are for a few hours – even then changing each moment with the wind and its own durability–to reach further designs and destinies.’

(Nasreen Mohamedi, diary excerpt, reprinted in Nasreen in Retrospect, Mumbai, 1995, p. 87)

Interestingly, Gaitonde’s works from this period are similar in concept with serene, meditative expanses created by his newly begun experiments with a roller. These flat surfaces were broken only by the appearance of a textured horizon dissecting the picture plane, usually with the use of a palette knife in a darker colour. ‘Gaitonde’s canvases of the same period transacted, in a sweep of calligraphic capture/ rapture, the energies of the visible/ invisible, natural and human-made, all merged onto a single plane in various configurations.’ (Roobina Karode, ‘Waiting is a Part of Intense Living’, Nasreen Mohamedi Waiting is a Part of Intense Living, exhibition catalogue, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, and, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2016, p. 24)

‘Nasreen and Gai are two Indian painters whose work automatically separates itself from the mainstream of Indian abstraction at this time by a certain quality of objectivity, a sense of restraint and a degree of technical finish.

While most abstractionists in this country start by breaking up a given object into planes or by an attempt to fracture the picture-plane or to impose on it a set of symbols, they do not.

They accept space. For both, disciplined space-use means rhythm. From this point on, Nasreen has moved into a tighter vocabulary of linear geometry, while Gai increasingly identifies himself with open-structuredness.’

(Pria Karunakar, ‘V.S. Gaitonde’, Lalit Kala Contemporary 19 & 20, New Delhi, April – September 1975, p. 16)
Condition: The colours of the original are cooler in the grey tones with less overall contrast between colours than the catalogue illustration. The background grey pigment has been applied in thin layers to the canvas and rubbing and abrasions are visible on the extreme edges of upper left and right side of canvas. Two further small abrasions along the upper edge reveal the canvas weave beneath. The canvas has been re- lined. When examined under UV light, the lower right quadrant shows a few areas of consolidation with associated re-touching, including four spots right along the upper part of the quadrant and some smaller areas along the lower right edge. Further re- touching is seen in the lower left corner and a larger line approximately 4 inches up from the lower left edge. Overall good condition.

[ translate ]
Sale price
Unlock
Estimate
Unlock
Reserve
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Time, Location
25 Apr 2024
India, Mumbai
Auction House
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