Rana Begum: The Space Between

30 June - 18 September 2016

Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art is delighted to present an exhibition by Rana Begum, the Bangladeshi-British artist’s first solo presentation in a public institution in the United Kingdom, bringing together a selection of past and recent works.

Drawing influences from constructivist and minimalist art, Begum’s two- and three-dimensional works and installations clearly reveal the sophistication of her spatial and visual awareness. Her works are so irresistibly engaging that viewers find their response to them is both emotional and intellectual. In one work, No. 531, 2014, thirty parallel sections of industrially powder-coated aluminium bars hang vertically on the wall. Each front-facing surface is white, while the inner and outer sides are sprayed in bright hues of red and blue. Passing in front of the work, viewers discover dynamic shifts in its colour and form. Light is a vitally activating element in Begum’s works, its shifts and changes producing an experience that is both temporal and sensorial.

Perhaps an ‘urban Romantic’,* Begum draws inspiration both from the city environment and her own childhood memories of the geometric patterns of traditional Islamic art and architecture. Thus, properties of light, colour, material, movement and form have become a hallmark of her abstract sculptures and reliefs. Often bringing a potentially infinite order to her works, Begum skilfully gives physical form to fleeting moments of aesthetic wonder.

Crucial to Begum’s practice are the carefully selected colours and reflected light that accentuate the geometry within its forms. In her folded raw-metal wall pieces, such as No. 489, L Fold, 2014, and No. 394, L Fold, 2013, the vibrantly fluorescent colours of their painted undersides are reflected onto the supporting wall, thereby creating a new and subtle element that has a powerful effect. In other works, the play of light combined with Begum’s articulation of colour and repetition steer the viewer’s attention not only towards the object itself but also to the space between its parts. Her use of robust, industrial materials is often at odds with the ethereal lightness and fragility embodied in her works, a dichotomy that is ever present in her practice. Begum’s works bring together moments of calm and exhilaration, their open-endedness allowing the viewer a sense of the infinite. In a new large-scale installation No. 670, 2016, created especially for this exhibition, sections of industrial steel-mesh fencing are arranged in a massive maze-like structure that invites visitors to walk through it and physically experience the sense of infinity bound within the geometric repetition of its architectural configurations. 

* Nick Hackworth in Rana Begum, ‘Overview’, Bischoff/Weiss, 2009.

This Rana Begum: The Space Between exhibition is curated by Ziba Ardalan, Founder/Director of Parasol unit. It is accompanied by a limited edition of 10 sculptural wall pieces and a comprehensive publication which includes an interview of the artist by Ziba Ardalan, and essays by Oliver Basciano and Murtaza Vali.

Parasol unit appreciates the generous support of the Arts Council England Grants for the Arts, Sho Choudhury, Galerie Christian Lethert, Priya Hiranandani-Vandrevala, Amrita Jhaveri, Jhaveri Contemporary, Peter Louis and Chandru Ramchandani, Fayeeza Naqvi, Saffronart, Samdani Art Foundation, Shamina Talyarkhan, and The Third Line.

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