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British South-Asian Visual Art Post Cool Britannia: The Shape of Immateriality

23 September 2021 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Painting titled 'Fountain' by Reza Ben Gajra.

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The third in a series of events organised by The British South-Asian Visual Art Post Cool Britannia Research Group

The interconnections between abstract art, narrative and heritage will be explored through presentations of works by three contemporary artists: Rana Begum, Reza Ben Gajra, Haroun Hayward. These will followed by a discussion, chaired by professor Daniel Sturgis, which will open up how each of the individual artists have used an abstract language to hold or draw on specific cultural readings. Whilst thinking about where influences come from and if aspects of South Asian heritage inform individuals works a broader question will also be addressed, how does abstraction address the social and political?


Rana Begum (b.1977 Bangladesh lives and works in London) works between the boundaries of painting, sculpture and architecture. Her practice is informed by the language of Minimalist abstraction and draws inspiration from the urban landscape, architectural design and geometric patterns throughout traditional Islamic art. Light is a central medium within her process, creating an experience that is both sensorial and temporal.

Exhibitions include: Wanas Konst, Sweden, Infinite Geometry, (2021), Solo show, Kate MacGarry, London (2021), Is This Tomorrow?, Whitechapel Gallery (2019), Solo show, TATE St Ives (2018),  Actions, Kettle’s Yard (2018), Women to Watch: Heavy Metal, NMWA Washington (2018), curated Occasional Geometries, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2017), Space Light Colour, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich (2017), Tribute to Sol Lewitt, Gemeente Museum Den Haag (2016), The Space Between, Parasol Unit (2016), Solo Project, Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2014 & 2020).

Reza Ben Gajra (b.1962, Mauritius, lives and works in London) recent paintings use colour and form to focuses on the Islamic concept of the Fitrah, the primordial innate disposition that all humans are born upon, as taught in the Qur’an. His work brings together a variety of diverse art historical interests, such modernist western abstraction, Islamic geometry, Persian miniatures, and art from pre-civilisations.

Selected solo or two person exhibitions include: The Showroom, London (1989); When 2 Moons Kiss, Long and Ryle (1990); Jerusalem, Alternative Arts, London (1991); Rochester Art Gallery (2011). His work was recently included in the group exhibitions, Bath Schools of Art & Design Alumni Show (2020) and Fantasy of having a trailer wagon all to myself at Gallery 46 (2021).

Haroun Hayward ( B. 1983) is a London-based artist who works primarily with oil, oil stick and oil pastels. His influences are incredibly diverse and include the cultural politics of 90’s dance music, graffiti, African and South Asian textiles, and even early Mughal miniatures. In his work, we can see an amalgamation of several different and disparate strands of thought converging in one place. Although distinct from each other, these influences are a testament to his diverse life experiences and cultural background.

Selected solo exhibitions include Too Nice, Play It Twice, indigo+madder, London, 2021 and Dance Mania, Wellington Club, London, 2020. Group exhibitions include Paradise Row Projects, September London, 2021; Urbanism, AORA, London, 2021; Drawing Room Biennial, Drawing Room, London, 2021; Interference, Rivington Rooms, London, 2019; Gadfly, indigo+madder, London, 2019; While Supplies Last, Mount Analogue, Seattle, USA, 2019; and The Bigger Picture, Mile End Pavilion, UK, 2017.

Images: © Reza Ben Gajra, Fountain, oil on canvas 90 x 90 cms, 2020





British South Asian Art Post Cool Britannia Research Group