Like her overall practice, Rana Begum’s recent wall mounted metal works resist easy categorizations. Though they combine elements of both sculpture and painting they remain resolutely neither, fulfilling the criteria of what Donald Judd, trying to theorize a way out of Modernism’s dead end obsession with medium specificity, famously termed “specific objects.” Like Judd’s Minimalist structures, they are, at their most basic, simply objects. And though Begum willingly attributes her longstanding aesthetic interest in simplicity, geometry, symmetry and repetition to childhood experiences of Islamic art and architecture she does not turn this into a fetish of identity, instead thoroughly assimilating it with lessons gleaned from subsequent entanglements with Minimalism and Post-Minimalism. In fact, the strength of her attribution, reinforced through her singular and restrained oeuvre, posits Islamic art as a viable and commonly unacknowledged source for many elements of Minimalist aesthetics.
Text by Murtaza Vali