Celebrating the Indian woman: Nita Ambani powers #NasreenMohamedi across India's Twitterati

The Nasreen Mohamedi retrospective in New York powered by the Nita Ambani-led Reliance Foundation trended across Indian cities with a mention every 47 seconds even as New York media showered praise on an artist whose global career has zoomed after a reclusive life which ended in relative obscurity.

The #NasreenMohamedi hashtag enjoyed its top trend ranking in 4 Indian cities Jaipur, Lucknow, Nagpur and Srinagar while Chennai, Kanpur, Patna, Surat, Thane, Ranchi and Rajkot came in next. Mumbai’s Twitter folks spent 10 minutes at a time engaging with the #NasreenMohamedi hashtag when it reached its top trend position of 19 in this city, according to iTrended data. The #NasreenMohamedi hashtag is enjoying strong brand stength across social media - 84 % with a 60% reach and 119 unique authors on the subject matter. The Nasreen Mohamedi retrospective making waves in New York less than a week before International Women's day is significant for many narratives.

"As an Indian woman, it is important for me to celebrate Nasreen Mohamedi’s legacy. Women will play an integral role in the transformation of India," Nita Ambani said.

Reliance Foundation chairperson Nita Ambani at the iconic Met Breuer window during the preview of Nasreen Mohamedi's works in NYC/ Pic by Dr Rajesh Parikh

Reliance Foundation chairperson Nita Ambani at the iconic Met Breuer window during the preview of Nasreen Mohamedi's works in NYC/ Pic by Dr Rajesh Parikh

From 20 different locations, there were 29 top trend data points on #NasreenMohamedi.

To put these numbers in context, this is the first time that an Indian artist - any Indian artist is leading the inaugural raft of exhibitions in America, not just in New York.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Ambani said the Mohamedi show in New York is a "proud moment for every Indian, especially so for Indian women."

"What a historic inauguration! In a patriarchal culture Nasreen Mohamedi was creating strong and assertive works," Ambani said.

The historical and social narrative is not lost on world media at a time when New York's great museums are pushing to layer their collections with diversity and depth.

Who is Nasreen Mohamedi - powerhouse of South Asian modernism?

The New York Times’ chief art critics have hailed the Nasreen Mohamedi “odyssey” at the Met Breuer as “a beautiful survey of the closely related drawings and photographs” of an artist “finally becoming known for her visionary, culturally inflected vision of Minimalism.”

The Nita Ambani-led Reliance Foundation is pushing for more Indian art on a global stage and the Mohamedi exhibition will be open to public from March 18 to June 5 at Met Breuer - a new “branch” of the iconic Metropolitan museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art.

Links: Business Standard on Reliance Foundation toasting Nasreen Mohamedi in NY

On the day of the press preview March 1, the Met-led Facebook walkthrough with Nita Ambani and Sheena Wagstaff got worldwide viewership and proved the strength and reach of a great museum’s “fourth” outpost - online.

The oldest and most widely circulated art magazine in the world - ARTnews picks the Mohamedi show as one of the reasons to be optimistic about the Met's contemporary reboot, a sign of what's to come in giving art shows a wide angle that embraces more than just the western.

"Another fine sign is the elegant, understated retrospective of Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi (1937–1990) on the Met Breuer’s second floor, which signals that the institution is staking a claim as a vital venue for presenting alternate strains of modernism, developed by artists from beyond the United States and Europe, which remain too little seen in the city’s museums."

"The reopening of Marcel Breuer's iconic building on Madison Avenue represents an important chapter in the cultural life of New York City," said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Met said the opening “represents an important chapter in the cultural life of New York City.”

"Whether frequent or first-time visitors to our Fifth Avenue building or The Met Cloisters, we look forward to welcoming everyone to The Met Breuer, which provides an unparalleled opportunity to experience modern and contemporary art through the lens of the global breadth and historical reach of The Met's collection."

In other words, more art that looks more like a changing America itself.

Which is how the Nasreen Mohamedi retrospective found its place in the sun as New York warms to yet another powerhouse who has found a global career after life.

Generous with its nod for #IndiaAtTheMet and its place in the larger context of the epic transformation at the Met, the New York Times says “the museum is on solid ground with its Mohamedi survey and also when bringing older art to life.”

Spanning Mohamedi's entire career and bringing together more than 130 paintings, drawings, photographs, and rarely seen diaries, the exhibition traces the conceptual complexity and visual subtlety of the artist's oeuvre.

Nasreen Mohamedi is not the only artist embedded in the #IndiaAtTheMet push. There’s the “workaholic” Vijay Iyer, the the jazz pianist and composer who will hold court in the lobby-level gallery, playing concerts — sometimes as many as six sets a day — with a rotating crew of guests. Iyer performed at the inaugural press preview March 1 to ringing applause from around the world which played live  on @firstpost  via Periscope.

The Gothamist has put together a charming mosaic of images from all the galleries open during the press preview. On Mohamedi, Gothamist has this to say: "...used repetition and elegant straight lines to create captivating graphite and paper pieces. Her clean, high-contrast art recalls the music of Steve Reich and Philip Glass. It's deceptively simple but draws you in to a very deep and quiet place."

Another piece in the New York Times on the Breuer says that of the two opening exhibitions, "the Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990) is the more venturesome, introducing a figure whose name will be new to many Met visitors, though the art-language she speaks, abstraction, will not."

Writing in art net news, Ben Davis says the Met botches its first outing in contemporary art but singles out the Mohamedi display on the second floor as worthy of applause: "An exhibition dedicated to the late Indian painter Nasreen Mohamedi, on the Met Breuer's second floor and curated by Wagstaff herself, seems a more promising gesture towards telling new kinds of art histories. But that deserves a separate review."

More Links:

The Art Newspaper's sneak peek inside Met Breuer

More Asia, more India at one of the world's great museums

Asian treasures inside a 146 year old museum

The New Yorker on the Met finally embracing the 'now'

(Disclaimer: Firstpost is part of Network18, owned by Reliance Industries Limited)

Updated Date: Mar 04, 2016 01:21 AM

Also See