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Rana Begum creates urban reflections through her art

Artist Rana Begum's fourth solo show took cues from her residency in Bangkok creating 'Perception and Reflection', exhibited at The Third Line gallery in Dubai.

by Sukanya Garg Jul 01, 2019

The Third Line presented 'Perception and Reflection', Rana Begum’s fourth solo exhibition, at the Dubai gallery from March 5 - May 9, 2019. Comprised entirely of reflectors, Begum's latest body of work captured the unexpected geometries of urban environments while light continued to hold sway over the works’ formal aspects.

The exhibition took its cues from her 2006 British Council residency in Bangkok, where she first experimented with reflectors as a medium for creative expression. Interested in readymade materials for their ability to translate abstract ideas into tangible forms, Begum returned to reflectors a decade later with a 50-meter long work installed at Lewis Cubitt Square in London's King's Cross in 2016.

Rana Begum, Perception and Reflection, 2019, The Third Line, Installation view 2 Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai

Fast forward a couple of years and scale down a couple of feet, Begum's new reflector works describe our ever-evolving built environment. Inspired by the straightforward patterns and vibrant colours of road signs and the way in which their surfaces shift as the day progresses, these works too shift and change as light exposure varies and as viewers walk around them. Complementing her wall-based pieces were towering structures that echo Dubai’s vibrant cityscape.

Rana Begum, Perception and Reflection, 2019, The Third Line, Installation view 3 Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai

Akin to our urban environments, Begum's new body of work reveals a world of contrasts: the reflectors’ static nature yet perpetual movement; the preciousness of an artwork and the simplicity of quotidian materials; the clear delineation of each work yet the sense of infinity its constitutive elements and repetitive patterns conjure. Beyond such dichotomies, what her works succeed to orchestrate is the contemplative nature of urban chance encounters.

Rana Begum, Perception and Reflection, 2019, The Third Line, Installation view 4 Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai

Begum received her Fine Arts degree in painting from the Chelsea College of Art and Design and her Master of Fine Arts in painting from the Slade School of Fine Art, in London, where she currently lives and works. Lodged between optical art and minimalism, her works draw their inspiration from repetitive geometric patterns found within Islamic art and urban architecture. She takes her experience of the vibrant collage of the urban environment and concentrates it through a process of distillation and filtration. Her work, minimal in its formal language, imposes order and system by abstracting those moments of accidental, aesthetic wonder.

Rana Begum, Perception and Reflection, 2019, The Third Line, Installation view 5 Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai

Begum's first museum solo exhibition 'Space Colour Light' opened at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in May 2017 and travelled to Djanogly Gallery in Nottingham, UK in July 2018. Other solo exhibitions include 'A Conversation with Light and Form', Tate St Ives, Cornwall, UK (2018); 'Rana Begum: The Space Between', Parasol Unit, London, UK (2016); Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2014); and 'New Works', Delfina Foundation, London, UK (2010). Her works have been acquired by international institutions and foundations including Art Museum of Western Virginia, Virginia, USA; Ernst & Young Collection, London, UK; British Telecom Headquarters, London, UK; The London Institute, London, UK; and MoNA (Museum of Old and New Art), Tasmania.

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About Author

Sukanya Garg

Sukanya Garg

Garg is an artist and writer with a Masters degree in Public Policy from Duke University, USA. She has been involved in research, planning and execution of gallery exhibitions and external projects in collaboration with curators. Her writing has been published in several art magazines, journals and as part of curatorial notes and catalogues, and her work has been showcased in multiple exhibitions.

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