Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2022

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© Asian Media Group - 2022

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Rana Begum


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THE lush rice fields of Sylhet in Bangladesh, where Rana Begum was born in 1977 and grew up as a little girl, still influences her work as an artist. “I definitely have good memories of growing up in Bangladesh, surrounded by green fields and water,” she tells GG2. “It comes out in my work – the vibrancy, the colour, the food.”

Repetition is another feature. “My love for repetition derives from my religious upbringing. I grew up reading the Qur’an and praying five times a day. The routine of prayer as well as the movements you do when you pray instilled this repetition that forever permeates through my work.” Colour has also been very important for her. “I grew up watching Bollywood movies and I absolutely loved their vibrancy.”

In 2013, she created a magical installation at the Dhaka Art Summit with 473 woven baskets, a throwback to her childhood. “While growing up I had a family friend who looked after me and she used to weave baskets. I wanted to incorporate that childhood memory so I thought why not create a structure with a basket formation.”

In 2020 she was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts which is very picky about who it lets in. And for the 2022 Summer Exhibition, she will be one of the committee helping to put together the show which has been an annual event since 1769. “It’s my first time,” she admits. “I’m very excited.”

The three distinctive elements in Begum’s art – light, colour and geometric patterns – were apparent in her 2022 exhibition at the Mead Gallery at the Warwick Arts Centre, aptly named Dappled Light.

In March 2022, Dappled Light moved to the Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery in London.

Begum came to the UK in 1985, aged eight. Begum

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