Ways of Seeing Abstraction:
Rana Begum, WP 410-412, 2020

Most people still understand abstraction as a concentration on form. It is viewed as an art movement which is used to express aesthetic ideas, orders, philosophical ideas or inner feelings, but which does not have much to do with everyday reality. However, especially in times marked by crises, relevance and urgency are also expected from art, and it is expected to make a statement on current social issues. Today, artistic commitment is not conveyed exclusively through clear visual messages and content, but increasingly through abstraction. For younger generations, in particular, non-representational art is the means of choice for addressing politics, religion, and social issues. Showcasing works from the Deutsche Bank Collection, the exhibition “Ways of Seeing Abstraction” at the PalaisPopulaire undertakes a thoroughly subjective survey of international abstraction from postwar modernism to the recent present, documenting the diversity and discursivity that lie behind the idea of non-objective, “pure” form. On the occasion of the exhibition, our series will show you works by artists who use abstraction idiosyncratically and define it in new ways.

Rana Begum, WP 410-412, 2020
© Begum Studio & Jhaveri Contemporary

She can very much remember the difference between the light in Bangladesh and in London, where she arrived one sunny winter morning to go to school, says Rana Begum. While the light in her old home country was fresh and clear, in Great Britain it was murkier, yet richer in color nuances. Everything in Begum's work revolves around the experience of light. This is also the case in this study for a wall piece. “There is something about working on paper at the moment that brings out the need to touch and feel. I found this tracing paper that allows me to do these drawings that are also transparent, light, and feel free.”

Begum has been influenced by the geometric abstraction of Minimalism and Constructivism, as well as by Agnes Martin's transcendent paintings, and Donald Judd's steel cubes. She often works with industrial materials such as steel, aluminum, copper, and plexiglas, producing subtle, almost weightless sculptures and wall works that sensitize the viewer to the space, to every movement, and to every incidence of light. In addition to their clear form, there is always something poetic and spiritual about Begum's works. She finds this in everyday materials, and in the geometries of traditional lslamic art, but above all in memories of her childhood in Bangladesh: the undulating green rice fields and the light on the water that she could watch for hours.