Opening exhibition ‘Rana Begum: Dappled Light’ features a number of artworks commissioned for the new gallery, with several of her large-scale works - paintings, sculptures and installations - responding specifically to the Arts Centre’s architecture.
Commissioned for the newly renovated Mead Gallery, Dappled Light represents a significant development in Rana Begum’s ongoing investigation into the experience of colour, light and form. Through paintings, sculptures, installations, and a new video installation, she extends the geometric structures of her vibrant paintings into softer veils and layers of colours. Several new artworks specifically respond to the extraordinary volumes of Mead’s new galleries.
In her work, Begum shows her assurance in using a wide range of materials, including metal, canvas, mirror stainless steel and jesmonite, to create artworks that subtly explore the act of perception. She deploys these materials inventively and playfully, drawing the viewer in to observe the minute details of application and construction, while the overall artworks are scaled to respond to the gallery’s impressive architecture. Each work addresses the perception of colour in a different way, using layering, mixing, and reflection to generate subtle and surprising optical effects. Through the use of everyday materials, several artworks also connect more closely to natural and urban sources in a way Begum has not previously explored.
In a number of newly commissioned works, Begum utilises ambient light as a material element, creating dynamic shifts in the translucency, density, and reflectivity of the works. In a bold site-specific installation, light ricochets within nesting mesh volumes that hang from the gallery’s high ceilings, both diluting and highlighting colours. Light in the form of tone also surges across a new large-scale painting comprised of overlapping layers of diffused, coloured haloes.
Natural sunlight vibrates through Begum’s first video installation which documents its dappled transience in a city woodland, as viewed from the artist’s home during lockdown over the course of a year. The documenting of the diurnal and seasonal shifts, as well as the softening and sharpening of focus, introduces new ideas around the temporal experience of light in Begum’s work.
Contributing to the legacies of abstraction and Minimalism, the artworks included in Dappled Light directly engage the viewer, creating a perceptual experience that unfolds over time. Dappled Light features new approaches in materials, colour, and light across several strands of Begum’s practice, making it a perceptual proposition for the contemporary sublime.
‘Rana Begum: Dappled Light’ is curated by Dr Cliff Lauson.
The exhibition is accompanied by an expansive monograph, published in September 2021 by Lund Humprhies, with an introduction by Anne Barlow, Director of Tate St Ives and essays by Sam Jacob, Lisa LeFeuvre, Maria Lind, Adnan Madani, Sarah Victoria Turner.
The commission of new work for this exhibition is generously supported by the Henry Moore Foundation.