Rana Begum

Rana Begum is an urban Romantic. A sensibility that evolved in opposition to industrialisation and urbanisation has come full circle. In 18th century Europe the Romantics sought refuge from a vulgar future in awesome nature, finding in its inhuman majesty authenticity, purity and wild, profound beauty.


In 2008 humanity officially became an urban species with more than 50% of the global population living in cities. Now the urban environment is our most common habitat. In it Begum finds her moments of transcendence in the myriad, hard, surreal, aesthetic wonders that emerge during any journey through a city.


The essence of the urban experience lies in the human need to find meaning and order in amongst the chaos and complexity of the city. If we, like Christopher Isherwood leaning out his window in Berlin in 1930, imagine ourselves to be a camera or an eye, disconnected from thought, and stood at the heart of our city, then for us the city would become a vast, constantly shifting stream of colour and form, a visual puzzle without end or aim, full of random and momentary meetings of signs and symbols. Transient relations emerge, configure, dissolve and reconfigure as the parade of the mobile passes against the backdrop of the static.


Begum's work is crystalline, simple, pure and hard-edged. She takes her experience of the vibrant collage of the urban environment and concentrates it through a process of refinement and filtration. Her work, minimal in its formal language, imposes order and system, as all art must, by abstracting those moments of accidental, aesthetic wonder. We find bands of deep colour that slowly bleed into each other or else, sit hard by each other. Each mini-colour field might be imagined as representing a momentary visual memory, the remembrance of a colour seen in a specific place and at a specific time, reified, becoming a perfect version of its self.     


True to the complexity of urban forms, Begum's works are both sculptures and paintings. Though static they are activated by the mobility of the viewer, using relief and perspective to present the moving eye with shifting patterns of colour and form that ripple, brake and reform. Often formed from repetitive, rectilinear units that bring the wall into the visual play, they remember the fragmentary nature of our visual environments and the contingency of the visual relationships that they generate and yet articulate the human desire to draw out meaning from chaos.


In every aspect Begum's work displays a subtle and acute intelligence.


Amongst the many ends that art can aim for, is an end that Begum's work achieves. That is the articulation of experience in a purified and heightened form that, if properly understood, brings us to a heightened awareness of the original subject that carries within it, into all the messy, imperfect contingencies of life, a memory of the hope that is crystallised in the perfection of art.



Rana Begum

Text by Nick Hackworth



Born in 1977, Sylhet, Bangladesh. Lives and works in London.


2002    Slade School of Fine Art, London, MFA in Painting
1999    Chelsea College of Art and Design, London
            BA (Hons) Fine Art Degree (Painting)
1996    University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
            BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design   
Solo Exhibitions

2014                Solo show, Gallerie Mana, Istanbul
                        Solo Project, Dhaka Art Summit, Jhaveri Contemporary, Bangladesh
                        Solo Project, Art Brussels, Christian Lethert
2013                Solo show, The Third Line, Dubai   
                        Mainfold, Galerie Christian Lethert, Cologne
2012                Solo Show, BISCHOFF/WEISS, London
2011                Solo show, Amrita Jhaveri, Mumbai, India
2010                Digital Art Residency at The City Gallery and Phoenix Square, Leicester
                        Fractured Symmetry, BISCHOFF/WEISS, London
                        Solo show at Delfina Foundation, London
2009                Solo show at Barts Hospital, VitalArts, London
                        The Moment of Alignment solo show at The Third Line, Dubai
2008                Transient Symmetry at VineSpace, London
2007                Colour Codes at The Third Line, Dubai

Group Exhibitions
2014                The Language of Human Consciousness, Athr Gallery, Jeddah
2013               The Edge of Painting, The Piper Gallery, London
2012               ABC Art Fair, Berlin, with The Third Line
                       Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London
                       Group show, Galerie Christian Lethert, Cologne
2011               The Art and Math of the Fold, Ft-Contemporary Berlin
                       The New Middle East, Willem Baars, Amstardam
                       Common Logic, group show at IMT, London
2010               Small is Beautiful, Flowers Gallery, London
                       Form & Phenomenon, group show, Project88, India
                       Serendipity City, Future Everything, Manchester
                       Group show, Red Bull Music Academy, London. Catalogue
2009               How Nations are Made, Cartwright Hall and Manor House, Bradford
                       Pattern Recognition, The City Gallery, Leicester
                       Lines of Control, group show, London. Catalogue
                       Identity, group show, Aisho Miura Arts, Tokyo. Catalogue
                       Neither Here, Nor There, Various Cityt Location- Billboards
2008               Contact, Bricklane, Work No. 951, London. Catalogue
                       Monologue/Dialogue Part II, Bischoff/Weiss, London
2007               Repetition and Sequence, Jerwood Space, London. Catalogue
                       Group show at Pablo's Birthday, New York
                       Sequence and Repetition, Beldam Gallery, Uxbridge. Catalogue
2006               Monologue/Dialogue, BU Gallery, Bangkok. Catalogue
2005               Art:21 Power /Memory/Structures/Play, Art Museum of Western Virginia
                       Ad Infinitum: The Aesthetics of Repetition II, Haines Gallery, CA
                       Summer Exhibition, group show, Purdy Hicks, Boston
                       The Same But Different, MILL-WORKERS, Manchester
                       Colour My World, Riflemaker, London
2004               Upstarts, Haines Gallery, San Francisco. CA.
                       Summer Exhibition, group show, Purdy Hicks, Boston.
                       Gallery artist, group show, Purdy Hicks, London.
                       2x2, Dahl Gallery, Luzern, Switzerland.


2014                HCL Commission, Delhi India
2013                Surbiton Health Centre Public Art Commission, London
                        Hualien Cinema, public art commission in Taiwan
2012                Jack Goldhill Award for Sculpture at the Royal Academy of Arts, London
2011                Marcol House commission, London
                        Non Sans Raison commission, France
2009               Two months residency in Beirut through Delfina Foundation
2006               British Council Residency in Bangkok
2007               Nominated for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award
2005               Lewisham Hospital Commission
                       Coventry Hospital Commission in collaboration with Tess Jaray
                       Artist in Residence at West Dean College, West Sussex
2000               Arts and Humanities Research Board award for postgraduate study.


2013                AAP, No.10
                        Surface, Steel This Art by Marina Cashdan
                        The National, Surface chemistry by Anne Seaman
2012                Platform, The Folded Page
2011               Wallpaper, Colour Scheme by Deepanjana Pal
                       Vogue India, Shape Shifter by Deepanjana Pal
2010               Time Out, India. Block Game by Zeenat Nagree
                       Art Asia Pacific by Hanea Ko
                       Time Out, In the studio by Helen Sumpter
2009               Modern Painters, Back to Black by Jyoti Dhar
                       What’s On, Dubai, The line of beauty by Catherine Jarvie
                       Gulf News, Dubai newspaper, Lines of enchantment, Jyoti Kalsi
                       Time Out, Dubai, Solid Geometry by Chris Lord
                       The National, Dubai newspaper, Patterns of work by Ed Lake
2008               The Financial Times, Abstraction Rules OK  by Jan Dalley
2007               Vogue UK, October issue, The alchemists by Louisa Buck
                       LÓfficial Middle East, Colour Codes
                       OK, Dubai, Colour Codes
                       City Times, Dubai, Colour Codes
                       Gulf News, Dubai. Colour Codes
                       Time Out, Dubai, Issue 36, Colour Codes
                       Harper’s Bazaar, Dubai, Sep. 2007, Colour Codes
2006               The Nation Newspaper, Bangkok, Monologue/Dialogue.
2005               Art at the mill, a-n magazine, review The Same But Different.
2004               Alison Bing, SF Gate, review Upstarts, Haines Gallery, San Francisco.
                       Apero Newspaper, review 2x2 show, Dahl Gallery, Switzerland.   

Selected Collections

Samdani Collection
Simons Foundation, USA
Farjam Collection, Dubai, UAE
Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, India
British Telecom Headquarters, London, UK
Coimbatore Centre for Contemporary Arts, Rajshree Pathy Collection, India
MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), Tasmania
Ernst & Young Collection, London
Art Museum of Western Virginia
The London Institute