Rana Begum: Towards an Infinite Geometry

21 Oct – 28 Nov 2015

Towards an Infinite Geometry

Belonging to the second generation of artists who turned Minimalism into something completely theirs, Rana Begum claims Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, and Islamic art and architecture as her influences. For Begum, repetition retains an element of ritual and in her practice, she assimilates the lessons of Minimalism with older traditions of using geometric patterns to visualize the unknowable and divine in Islamic art and aesthetics.

On view at the gallery is a series of wall and floor works, compositions that are arrived at through the repetition of a primary geometric unit: the triangle, which the artist identifies as the most honest and pure of shapes. The sequential units vary in terms of material and surface treatment: matte raw steel alternates with slickly painted aluminium. Energized by the inherent dynamism of the triangle, and bisected by a thin white zig-zag of the gallery wall behind it, each array pulses rhythmically. Colour oscillates between the intrinsic and the applied. While the natural surface of steel registers as flat, appearing to sit flush against the wall, the painted aluminum is reflective, mirroring the viewer and her environment, expanding by incorporating the surrounding space. 

Juxtaposed against these earlier works of 2011, Begum’s latest body of work presents a clever challenge to the hard edges of individual geometric units. Each piece in the series is an array of three or more partially overlapping squares of painted mild steel mesh. Each square of gridded mesh seems to uncannily dissolve before our eyes, allowing the colour to float free of its physical substrate. These works disentangle our experience of colour from that of form. Colour is experienced as diffusion, no longer a material fact but a phenomena somewhat closer to light, vulnerable to shifts and changes in both the viewing body and its surrounding environment.

Download text by Murtaza Vali