New York: Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi's works - the largest such exhibition of an Indian artist's retrospective in America, opened to rave media reviews Tuesday at New York's audacious new temple to contemporary art — Met Breuer.
Supported by the Nita Ambani-led Reliance Foundation, which is pushing for more Indian art on a global stage, the Mohamedi exhibition will be open to public from March 18 to June 5 at a landmark 'brutalist' building designed by Hungarian architect Marcel Breuer. Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States and Reliance Foundation is rooting to give art mobility even as the Met -one of the world's great museums attempts an epic tweak to appeal to a swiftly changing demographic.
Inaugurating the "historic!" exhibition, Ambani said Mohamedi had been an inspiration to her as "in a patriarchal culture she created strong and assertive works".
"It is a proud moment for every Indian, especially so, for Indian women," she said expressing her strong belief that Indian art needs wider global appreciation.
"The richness and diversity of Indian art is truly brilliant," she said. "Over the years, I have come to share a very special bond with the arts."
Chief of the Met's contemporary treasures, Sheena Wagstaff walked Nita Ambani through the intricate and layered works of Nasreen Mohamedi which the Met ran live on its Facebook page and pulled in viewers from around the world.
Ambani said her love for art started at the age of 5 with Bharatanatyam, and her training in the Indian classical dance form "has helped me develop a deep appreciation for all forms of art, leading to what we do at the Reliance Foundation today".
Her husband Mukesh Ambani and she believe that "social sector development is most important for India as its economy grows. It is integral to building an inclusive India".
That is why they established Reliance Foundation in 2010 with the vision of sustainable development and economic growth.
Working in the areas of rural transformation, health, education, sports, arts and culture, and disaster response, the Foundation has already transformed the lives of over 6 million Indians, she said.
Sheena Wagstaff, the chair of the Met's modern and contemporary division, got Nita Ambani interested in the whole project.
"One of our goals with The Met Breuer is to present thoughtful exhibitions that posit a broader meaning of modernism across vast geographies of art," Wagstaff said.
"The poignant story of Mohamedi, a relatively little-known but significant artist, reveals a highly-individual artistic quest, drawing on historic sources from across the world, alongside her evocative photography as an unexpected form of visual note-taking."
The exhibition is being co-hosted by the Queen Sofia Museum of Spain and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art.
"One of the most significant artists to emerge in post-Independence India, Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990) created a body of work that demonstrates a singular and sustained engagement with abstraction," The Met said.
What has come for praise is her minimalist practice, which not only adds a rich layer to the history of South Asian art, but also enrages the scope of the narratives into international modernism.
Mohamedi's inspirations came from poetry of Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke and French philosopher-author Albert Camus, as also classical music and the modernist architecture of Le Corbusier's Chandigarh.
Mohamedi is also believed to have had an exposure to Western and Eastern philosophy, poetry and literature, which can be seen in her diaries that include quotes by Rumi, Ghalib, and Mohammad Iqbal.
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