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Rana Begum

Rana Begum is a London-based artist whose work mainly involves the synergy of light, lines, and colors. Bearing minimalist aesthetic, most of her sculptural works manifest from industrial materials and artificial colours, which result in abstract and geometric compositions. Her work consists of bold lines and solid shapes, embodying a minimalist take on the environment.

Begum completed her BFA from Chelsea College of Art and her MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art. She had her first museum show at Norwich’s Sainsbury Centre and curated the Art Council Collection at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. She has completed commissions in the UK, Sweden and Italy among others. 

Rana’s residency occurred May 28–June 10, 2018.

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Begum often draws inspiration from her surroundings. First, she experimented with bricks and roof tiles in the brick workshop in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. She was interested in using functional materials or objects from daily life and transforming them into something anew. She explores materials that contain overlooked geometric patterns. For example, she arranged and stacked bricks upwards to see if unexpected lines would emerge. This is especially the case with the pyramid-like project titled No. 815 made up of roof tiles piled on top of each other. Her work imposes order and system, focusing on shifting patterns of form that break and re-form.

The tables she experimented with resulted in No. 817. She had stumbled upon tables piled upon each other and refined it as a “sculpture”. She was inspired by how the lines of the piece intersect with each other. Begum claims Donald Judd as among her influences. Judd was chiefly interested in the kind of wholeness that can be achieved through the repetition of identical units – the order at work in his pieces, as he once remarked of that in Frank Stella’s stripe paintings, “is simply order, like that of continuity, one thing after another.” This resonates with these two works produced at Bellas Artes Projects headquarters.

Next, the tile workshop proved to be inspiring to the artist. Deviating from the traditional floral and intricate patterns that the craftsmen would normally carry out, Begum worked together with the craftsmen to create a two-toned tile, diagonally divided across each piece. This was a deliberate play on the tile works, an opportunity to experiment with color. This resulted in three pieces, No. 818, No. 819, and No. 820. The interplay of form, angle, and color allows the viewer to reconsider viewpoints. While working in the large warehouses at Las Casas workshops, she considered how each work is made and how each interacts within the space in which it exists.

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No. 816 consists of standing roof tiles emulate a geometric pattern similar to a previous work, No. 695 (2016), which won the annual Abraaj Group Art Prize in March 2017. The inner sides maintain their terracotta red, while the outer sides are painted in bright hues of yellow and turquoise green. Here, color serves as a tool to highlight the geometry of the form and emphasizes its physical presence. Simultaneously, the contrast of colors lends the work a visual lightness. These works produced during her residency disentangle our experience of color from that of form, making it a quality that is perceptual rather than material.

These works were later exhibited the following year at the Outpost in the exhibition, X T > < L X curated by Diana Campbell alongside works by Ayesha Sultana and Nabil Rahman, who also explored with abstraction during their residencies.

Installation shots, X T > < L X at Bellas Artes Outpost, November 6, 2018 - January 5, 2019. Courtesy of Bellas Artes Projects. 

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