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.








Slade School of Fine Art London, MFA in Painting

Chelsea College of Art and Design, London

BA (Hons) Fine Art Degree (Painting)

University of Hertfordshire, Hatfielf, Hertfordshire

BTEC Diploa in Foundation Studies in Art and Design


Current Exhibition

2013 The Edge of Painting, The Piper Gallery, London

Solo Exhibitions












Solo Show, The Third Line, Dubai

Solo Show, Galerie Christian Lethert, Cologne

Solo Show, BISCHOFF/WEISS, London

Solo Show, Amrita Jhaveri, Mumbai, India

Digital Art Residency at The City Gallery and Phoenix Square, Leicester

Fractured Symmetry, BISCHOFF/WEISS, London

Solo Show at Delfina Foundation, London

Solo Show at Barts Hospital, VitalArts, London

The Moment of Alignment solo show at The Third Line, Dubai

Transient Symmetry at VineSpace, London

Colour Codes at The Third Line, Dubai


Group Exhibitions




































ABC Art Fair, Berlin, with The Third Line

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London

Group Show, Galerie Christain Lethert, Cologne

The Armory Show, New York, with BISCHOFF/WEISS

Art Dubai, with BISCHOFF/WEISS

Frieze Art Fair, London, with The Third Line

The Art and the Math of the Fold, FT-Contemporary, Berlin

Art Dubai, with BISCHOFF/WEISS

The New Middle East, Willem Baara, Amsterdam

Common Logic, group show at IMT, London

Small is Beautiful, Flowers Gallery, London

Form & Phenomenon, group show, Project88, India

Artissima, Torino, with The Third Line

Fiac Art Fair, Paris, with BISCHOFF/WEISS

Frieze Art Fair, London, with The Third Line

Serendipity City, Future Everything, Manchester

Group Show, Red Bull Music Academy, London

How Nations are Made, Cartwright Hall and Manor House, Bradford

Pattern Recognition, The City Gallery, Leicester

Lines of Control, group show, London

Identity, group show Aisho Miura Arts, Tokyo

Neither Here, Nor There, Various City Locations - Billboards

Contact, Bricklane, WOrk No. 951, London

Group Show at Pablo's Brithday, New York

Repetition and Sequence, Beldam Gallery, Uxbridge

Group Show at Pablo's Birthday, New York, NY

Sequence and Repetition, Beldam Gallery, Uxbridge

Monologue/Dialogue, BU Gallery, Bangkok

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, MA

The Same But Different, MILL-WORKERS, Manchester

Colour My World, Riflemaker, London

Upstarts, Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Summer Exhibition, group show, Prudy Hicjs, Boston, MA

Gallery artist, group show, Purdy Hicks, London

2x2 Dahl Gallery, Luzern, Switzerland













Jack Goldhill Award for Sculpture at the Royal Academy of Arts, London

Marcol house Commission, London

Non Sans Raison commission, France

Two months residency in Beirut through Delfina Foundaiton

British Council Residency in bangkok

Nominated for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award

Lewisham Hospital Commission

Coventry Hospital Commission in collaboration with Tess Jaray

Artist in Residence at West Dean College, West Sussex

Arts and Humanities Research Board award for postgraduate study
























Platform, The Folded Page

Wallpaper, Colour Scheme by Deepanjana Pal

Vogue India, Shape Shifter by Deepanjana Pal

Time Out, India. Block Game by Zeenat Nagree

Art Asia Pacific by Hanea Ko

Time Out, In the Studio by Helen Sumpter

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

The Financial Times, Abstraction Rules Ok! by Jan Dalley

Vogue UK, October Issue, The alchemists by Louisa Buck

L'Official Middle East, Colour Codes

City Times, Dubai, Colour Codes

Gulf News, Dubai, Colour Codes

TIme Out, Dubai, Colour Codes

Harper's bazaar, Dubai, September Issue, Colour Codes

The Nation Newspaper, Bangkok, Monologue/Dialogue

Art at the mil, a-n magazine, review of The Same But Different

Alison Bing, SF Gate, review of Upstarts, Haines Gallery, San Francisco

Apero Newspaper, review 2 x 2 show, Dahl Gallery, Switzerland


Selected Collections


Coimbatore Centre for Contemporary Arts, Rajshree Pathy Collection, India

MONA (museum of Old and New Art), Tasmania

Art Museum of Western Virginia

Ernst & Young Collection, London

Dahl Gallery, Switzerland

The London Institute