Rana Begum's work explores the interaction of light, colour and form.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Celebrating five years of its multidisciplinary space Concrete, Alserkal Avenue is presenting a solo presentation of work by artist Rana Begum. Dappled Light will be the artist’s largest solo exhibition in the region to date and will include works that have not been shown in the region before (Feb. 26 – Mar. 22). Begum’s work will explore the interaction of light, colour and form in dialogue with OMA’s Concrete, responding to the building’s architectural conversation with light and form, captured in its minimalist lines.
The exhibition is curated by Dr. Cliff Lauson. Concrete was launched in 2017 and is the first OMA-designed building in the UAE. Since its opening, the brutalist structure has hosted numerous group exhibitions, showcasing a diverse programme, in partnership with arts institutions such as the Atassi Foundation, Samdani Art Foundation, Victoria and Albert Museum London and Hayward Gallery, among others.
To celebrate five years of Concrete’s legacy in the arts, Alserkal Avenue has chosen to work with Begum, who is known for using industrial materials, repeating geometric patterns and colours that interact with the surrounding architecture. The artist has a long-standing relationship with the region, being represented by Dubai-based gallery The Third Line, and having completed a commission for a show at Concrete in 2019.
The works on display will include No.1228 Mesh (2023) a large-scale suspended mesh ‘cloud’, and No.1079 Painting Large (MG) (2021), an epic ten-metre wide colour-field canvas. Several wall-based works use different materials and forms to reveal the interplay of light and space, while others, including No.1227 Net (2023) and No.1229 Wall Drawing (2023), will be site-specific installations, responding to the architecture around them.
Also included is No.1080 Forest (MG) (2021), Begum’s first video installation, a time-lapse study of natural light as it falls through the forest canopy. No. 694 Hyetal (2016) is the artist’s only work to combine artificial illumination and movement in dynamic interplay will be featured, after having been recently included in Uncombed, Unforseen, Unconstrained - an exhibition presented alongside last year’s Venice Biennale.
The exhibition will also feature outdoor commission in the yard, the latest iteration of the artist’s sculptural compositions comprised of colourful tessellated mesh panels. Speaking on the show’s iteration in Concrete, Begum said that “this show means a lot to me, bringing together the varying strands of my work in a narrative that continues to inform and push my practice. “In each touring location, Dappled Light has transformed to create a new experience, a new narrative.
I am so excited to bring it to Concrete and see how it responds to the vast architecture. The geometric brutalism reflects my exploration into urban form, while providing a stark backdrop to the more nebulous surfaces of colour and soft, dappled light.” Drawing inspiration from the urban landscape, the precision of geometry and traditional Islamic art and architecture, Begum’s work is grounded in light as a catalytic element that produces an experience for the viewer that is both temporal and sensorial.
Vilma Jurkute, executive director of Alserkal Initiatives, said: “Bringing Dappled Light to Concrete, the very first artist solo exhibition in the space, solidifies our commitment to artistic production with artists connected to our region. We could not imagine a better way to mark five years of OMA’s Concrete than bringing Rana Begum’s works to inhabit and respond to the space.” The exhibition will be accompanied by a public programme of talks and tours that will take place over the course of Alserkal Art Week (Feb. 26 – Mar. 5) and the duration of the exhibition. Rana Begum: Dappled Light is organised and toured by the Mead Gallery, University of Warwick, UK.
It is supported by the Henry Moore Foundation. London-based Begum (b. 1977, Bangladesh) blurs the boundaries between sculpture, painting and architecture. Her visual language draws from the urban landscape as well as geometric patterns from traditional Islamic art and architecture. Light is fundamental to her process. Dr Lauson is Director of Exhibitions at Somerset House, London, overseeing the temporary exhibitions, commissions, and special projects of the cultural programme. He currently serves on the British Council Collection Acquisitions Advisory Committee and is a Trustee of Film and Video Umbrella.
Jurkute is the Executive Director of Alserkal Initiatives, overseeing Alserkal Avenue, Alserkal Arts Foundation, and Alserkal Advisory. She oversees three primary areas of activity of Alserkal Initiatives: cultivating a creative economy in Dubai and building a collaborative network of civic-cultural institutions through its cultural district, Alserkal Avenue; providing advisory services to public and private sector entities through Alserkal Advisory; and supporting public artist commissions, residencies, research grants and educational programmes through its non-profit, Alserkal Arts Foundation.
Alserkal Avenue, the cultural district in the Al Quoz industrial area of Dubai, is home to a community of over 70 contemporary art galleries, visual and performing arts organisations, designers, homegrown and entrepreneur-led businesses, and community spaces across 500,000 square feet and 90 warehouses. The Avenue is home to Concrete, the multi-disciplinary exhibition space conceptualised and programmed by Alserkal, as well as the artist residency programme of Alserkal’s non-profit, Alserkal Arts Foundation.
Alserkal Avenue was established in 2008 by Alserkal Initiatives following the thinking of its founder, Emirati businessman and cultural patron Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, who seeks to support the creative community and cultural production in Dubai.
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