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Occasional Geometries: Rana Begum curates the Arts Council Collection
Jesse Darling, March of the Valedictorians, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Arcadia Missa. Photo Tim Bowditch.

WAKEFIELD.- Yorkshire Sculpture Park presents Occasional Geometries, an exhibition selected largely from the Arts Council Collection by Bangladeshi-born artist and guest curator Rana Begum. Begum has established an internationally respected practice creating immaculately conceived and constructed abstract installations that challenge the distinction between two and three-dimensional practice, sculpture and painting.

A scroll through Begum’s Instagram feed immediately reveals a particular personal interest and delight in the occasional geometries of life. This might be the definition of an air vent, the architecture of a stairwell articulated through light and shadow, or the abstract pattern of a handrail. Begum says, of a childhood memory: ‘One particular day as a child in Bangladesh reading the Quran at the local mosque, in a tiny room dappled with morning light. The light and the repetition of recitation, all familiar elements, suddenly came together in a strong feeling of calm and exhilaration. It is one of my strongest memories and the experience of calm and exhilaration is what I try to capture in my work’.

Begum has selected works from the Arts Council Collection by artists who share a similar viewpoint and those from different generations. Throughout Longside Gallery, Begum’s selection creates an architectural, spatial and playful experience – one that is animated through movement and changing light. Her approach has been to bring together abstract works that, as she describes, ‘have a soul’. The exhibition takes its name from Richard Wentworth’s photograph Tirana, Occasional Geometries (2000), which features in the show. In his photography, Wentworth documents the everyday, paying attention to objects, occasional and involuntary geometries, as well as uncanny situations that often go unnoticed.

Soda Lake (1968) by Nigel Hall is a response to the physical geometry of the southern Californian lake of the same name in the Mojave Desert, where the views extend so far it is possible to perceive the curvature of the Earth. Hall observed that ‘spatial intervals and distance were the dominant features of the landscape, which was also intensely silent. It seemed, there, less important for forms to occupy space than that they should have the ability to indicate space and draw attention to it… The subject matter of Soda Lake is space, and its components determine how the space is channelled, trapped or disclosed’.

In Hungarian artist Dora Maurer’s photograph, Studies of Minimal Movements (walk on the seashore with Klaus Groh) (1972), the artist breaks down the simple actions of four people walking by the sea so that the viewer can view the piece ‘as movement, not a photograph of movement’. Maurer’s work encourages discussion, allowing for various interpretations and possibilities, but also focuses on the grammar of geometry and mathematical systems.

The exhibition also features two new works by British-Pakistani artist, Rasheed Araeen. Return of the Chakras (2016–17), sees the concept behind two of the artist’s historic works – Chakras and Triangles , made in 1969 and 1970 respectively – combined to create an entirely new work. Return of the Chakras features painted plywood circles which float on the historic Lower Lake, photographs of which are displayed alongside painted plywood triangles in a 4 x 4 formation. Araeen’s Zero to Infinity (2016–17), a large interactive sculpture made of colourful wooden open-framework cubes, is presented in front of Longside Gallery’s vast windows overlooking the Bretton Estate. Arranged in the open air, the cubes are initially positioned in an ordered structure, but the artist’s intention is for viewers to interact with its components by moving them into new configurations, breaking down the hierarchy of sculpture production.

A strong use of colour continues inside the gallery with Gary Hume’s Fragment of a Rainbow (2011). Hume has divided the rainbow into its seven colour sections and the fragmented arcs of different shapes and sizes are displayed high above eye level as if in a joyful dance around the gallery walls. March of the Valedictorians (2016) by Jesse Darling is a collection of bright red primary school chairs towering above visitors on long, bent legs. In Estelle Thompson’s Whiteishwhiteishness (2003) the artist plays with expanses of white paint, set off with light grey rectangles and primary colours, inviting the viewer to explore the painterly nature and tonality of the work.

Jill Constantine, Head of Arts Council Collection said: “Rana Begum, winner of this year’s Abraaj Group Art Prize, is one of the most innovative and exciting young artists working in Britain today and we are delighted that she has accepted our invitation to curate an exhibition from the Arts Council Collection. For this exhibition, Begum has chosen to address the theme of occasional geometries of life. The show promises to be playful, colourful and it will offer a number of imaginative interpretations of the Arts Council Collection.”

Visitors can join Rana Begum for an Exhibition Walk and Talk on 14 September 2017 to find out more about her practice and the inspiration behind Occasional Geometries . The exhibition is also accompanied by a limited-edition publication, presented in an artist-designed case, with texts by Diana Campbell Betancourt, Artistic Director of Samdani Art Foundation and Bellas Artes Projects and Chief Curator of the Dhaka Art Summit; and YSP Senior Curator, Dr Helen Pheby.

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