Shape shifters invade city

Check out London-based Bangladeshi artist Rana Begum's unusual installation art made from drinking straws at Bungalow 8 and quirky aluminium and paper art at Amrita Jhaveri Projects

Pay a visit to lifestyle store Bungalow 8 anytime this week and you will chance upon neon-lit formations (in fluorescent green, yellow, pink, orange and black) hanging from the ceiling.

Installation art at Bungalow 8 created using
neon-lit drinking straws

Lending a surreal effect, these geometric objects, titled No 207, are actually drinking straws that have been given varied shapes and made into an art installation by Rana Begum, a Bangladeshi artist based in London.

Head north from Colaba to Walkeshwar and at Amrita Jhaveri Projects, pieces of coloured paper folded in various shapes and grids made of spray-painted shafts of aluminium suspended at regular intervals await you.

Through such three-dimensional artworks Rana is attempting to inspire people to take a good look around them. "My work can be viewed as a lesson in seeing.
Upon leaving the exhibition, perhaps the viewer starts to see these moments around them and notices anew the odd and uncharacteristic snapshots of beauty that living in a city can provide," says the artist.

Rana's interest in art stemmed from her need to communicate in an alien land. When she migrated to London at the age of eight, she had no knowledge of English and art become her tool to familiarise herself with the new country.

Paper craft at Amrita Jhaveri Projects

"It became something I was fascinated with and wanted to be doing all the time," she observes.
She went on to study at the Chelsea College of Art and Design and the Slade School of Fine Art in London.

For the love of the city

Rana admits that her unique artforms are inspired by the clutter and chaos of living in a city, cultural elements and what she notices around herself. "Artists such as Tess Jarray, Mary Martin and Agnes Martin have been inspirational.

Martin was a great early influence when I was still a student. I love what she can achieve just by using a simple grid," admits Rana, adding that Islamic art and architecture also moved her. "I went to Spain to see the Moorish architecture and it was absolutely beautiful."

The lesser the better
What emerges from her installation art is a study in minimalism that conveys how things can accidentally make sense. "I find watching how people view my work fascinating. It's great to wait for the reaction when someone moves in front of the work and finds the colours and pattern shift before them.
I have had people come back to me or send me pictures of what they have seen in the city after being inspired from my artworks to notice them," explains Rana.

As Rana plays with colour, line and form through her colourful straws, she powerfully depicts the chaos of the city, its buzzing nightlife and the aesthetic possibilities of bringing art into cramped spaces. The installation No 207 was initiated by Rana during her residency in Beirut in 2009.

As for her metallic artworks, she feels that they are a study in precision. While their metallic surface  may give an impression of mass production, the colours and the complex patterns lend them a uniqueness. Plus, with the use of colours, Rana feels the installations really come to life and appear beautiful.

While her paper art resembles origami, Rana attributes it to her using paper as a basic canvas to reflect her ideas. "A lot of my ideas start from making works with paper. It reflects three-dimensional space, architecture, movement and different viewpoints," she concludes.

Till December 31
AT Bungalow 8, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba; Amrita Jhaveri Projects, Krishna Niwas, 58A, Walkeshwar Road.
caLL 22819880 / 23693639

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