Rasheed Araeen Gets a Retrospective at the Van Abbemuseum

November 29, 2017

On the 2nd of December 2017, the Van Abbemuseum will open the gates to their latest show, titled Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective. As the name suggests, this exhibition will be the first comprehensive survey of Rasheed Araeen's career, a London-based conceptual artist who spent the last sixty years of his life building an extremely influential and diverse body of work.

The show will be structured across five chapters based on the pivotal milestones of the artist's career, taking us down the journey of Araeen's art, starting with his early experiments in painting in the 1950s and early 1960s, covering his pioneering minimalist sculptures and key artworks that followed Araeen's political awakening.

Finally, on view there will also be a wide selection of the London-based artist's new geometric paintings and fascinating wall structures.

Opus F4, 2014 / Opus F3, 2014
Left: Rasheed Araeen - Opus F4, 2014 / Right: Rasheed Araeen - Opus F3, 2014,

The First Two Chapters of the Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective

The first phase of Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective is titled In the Beginning (1955-64). This opening chapter is dedicated to the artist's paintings created in Karachi in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They will demonstrate how a man with no formal artistic training could achieve so much with abstract compositions.

Paintings such as Boats Towards Abstraction and those from the Hyderabad series will show Araeen's interest in geometry and natural forces such as water and fire.

Geometry and Symmetry (1964-70) will be the second phase, zeroing in on Araeen’s unprecedented contribution to the movement of Minimalism.

This will be achieved by examining series of pioneering works, like Rasheed's Structures and lattice pieces. His continuous interest in geometry and symmetry will be evident by presented works like Sculpture No. 1 and Sculpture No. 3, as well as the lattice works 3 Y + 3B and Bo0, and the structure Nine.

From the series Boats Towards Abstraction, 1958-1962
Rasheed Araeen - From the series Boats Towards Abstraction, 1958-1962, Courtesy of M+ Hong Kong

The Final Phases of the Show

The third chapter of the exhibition is called Becoming Political (1971-84) and it will be in charge of demonstrating Araeen’s political awakening. It will show works that were a direct result of the artist's decision to confront the politics of the Imperial Britain.

Collages, writings, performance pieces and photography created during this period will be thoroughly investigated.

Titled In Pursuit of Significant Language (1984-97), the fourth chapter includes a series of Cruciform works from the 1980s and 1990s. These crucial works display their maker's interest in high modernist abstraction, as well as his views on contemporary wars in the Gulf and Middle

The final phase of the upcoming exhibition is titled Homecoming (Recent work). As its name perfectly illustrates, this part of the show will include Araeen’s latest body of works.

His The Reading Room will be on display, comprised of copies of the journal Third Text Rasheed founded and edited between the years of 1987 and 2012. A series of geometric paintings from his recent Opus Series and two new lattice reliefs will be available to the public as well.

For Oluwale, 1971-75 / Golden Calf, 1987
Left: Rasheed Araeen - For Oluwale, 1971-75, (detail), third of four panels / Right: Rasheed Araeen - Golden Calf, 1987, Courtesy of the artist and Rossi Rossi, Hong Kong

Rasheed Araeen Art Exhibition at Van Abbemuseum

Aside from providing us with an extremely detailed and in-depth overlook of the artist's career, the event will also feature a study room including material from Araeen’s archives, letters and publications. This will only further help the show's goal of establishing the scope and ambition Araeen demonstrated while challenging artistic, formal, ideological, cultural and political assumptions of his contemporaries.

Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective will be open to the public between the 2nd of December 2017 and 25th of March 2018, and it will be held at Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

Featured images: Rasheed Araeen - Photo of the artist, Photo Socrates Mitsios; Paki Bastard (Portrait of an Artist as a Black Person), 1977; Sculpture No. 1, 1965-2017; The Reading Room, 2017; Nine, 1967; White Stallion, 1991, Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, London; My First Sculpture, variation 1, 1959 (1975), Courtesy of Aicon Gallery. All images courtesy of Van Abbemuseum and the artist.