Curator's Choice: Eleanor Clayton on Nasreen Mohamedi's red triangles and shifting light

By Ben Miller | 18 June 2014

Curator’s Choice: Eleanor Clayton on an untitled work by Indian modernist Nasreen Mohamedi, featuring in the current exhibition devoted to the artist at Tate Liverpool

A photo of a woman standing next to a modernist painting of red, yellow and blue
Untitled (early-mid 1960s) is part of Tate Liverpool's new Nasreen Mohamedi exhibition - the largest solo show of the Indian artist's work in the UK to date© Tate Liverpool, courtesy Paul Aggarwal
“This is one of Nasreen Mohamedi’s early works in our retrospective exhibition. In these early works her fascination with her surroundings is evident, observing trees and the shifting shapes light as it passed through their leaves over time, and creating landscapes made of the geometric forms and lines she saw.

Here there is a strong horizontal band which indicates a landscape, and the forms of rooftops and buildings can be seen stripped back to shapes on the horizon.
 
Dominating the painting is a red triangle – a form which Mohamedi worked with throughout her life, whether in her iconic monochrome linear constructions or found within the carefully cropped photographs she took.

One of the artist’s friends considered her to be an early installation artist, recalling that she was concerned with how people experienced her works, and would create spaces for display which reflected the aesthetic of the works shown.

Mohamedi is best known for her inked line drawings from the 1970s and ‘80s in which she constructed intricate abstract designs using precision instruments and working at an architects’ table.

The exhibition shows the development of her utopian abstraction from early works like this oil painting, which has never before seen in the UK.
 
In our exhibition Mohamedi’s archive and photographs, which she kept separate from her work during her lifetime, are shown in a central, triangular room – the shape of which is inspired by this work.”

  • Nasreen Mohamedi is at Tate Liverpool until October 5 2014. Admission £7.50-£11. Book online. Tickets for the concurrent Mondrian and his Studios: Abstraction into the World exhibition includes entry to the show.

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