The Grid, Unplugged

As representatives of the Nasreen Mohamedi estate, Talwar Gallery has put together an exhibition of her works titled the grid, unplugged as their fall show for the year, which will run through Nov 15th. The gallery is a shrine, hushed and dark, with soft spotlights trained on each drawing. The hallowed settings initiate a warm connection with the works that might otherwise be construed as mere mechanical or architectural schema.

The main room holds a series of Mohamedi’s larger drawings, all nineteen inches square. The press release states that in “dismantling the rigidity of the grid, she infuses them with a dynamic rhythm that at times soars, dives, expands, and collapses. Like the footsteps of sunlight through a courtyard or wind sweeping over water, they are abstract in form but not in experience.” The drawings encapsulate whole universes with variances in thickness, length, spacing and shading of the line to map the trajectories of many or few plots. Mohamedi employed the tools of Piet Mondrian, a Modernist forebear, to reduce nature to abstract linear principles which attempt to quantify beauty into measured absolutes. Though the intent is divergent, her results may even be formally compared to the works of such Minimalists as Sol Lewitt, her contemporary at the time, particularly his wall drawings. For both come from the same wellspring that is early Modernism.

The room adjacent has been hung with the artist’s smaller works, each seven inches square. It would be a mistake to view them as derivative, or minor equations completed as a step towards the larger drawings. They stand in their own right and though less spatial, they are certainly more heavily worked. The pattern becomes more insistent, almost like a computer code matrix as opposed to the preceding radiating energy path flows.

As an added gem, the gallery also plays a clip that shows the pages of Mohamedi’s diary on a flatscreen television. The insight gained from this video display is tremendous. Haikus, daily appointments and sundry jottings pointing towards emotional instability and turmoil are either inked out or are framed by bar codes and other gridded interventions. Yet, such ferment almost forty years ago was able to produce intricate and precise drawings that in spite of their remarkably non-digital medium remain stellar, lyrical and advanced in concept.

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