London-based artist Rana Begum explains how she folds steel and metal to create the vibrant works in her third solo show at The Third Line.
Bangladeshi-born British artist Rana Begum spent months learning all she could about metals for a three-dimensional exhibition at The Third Line. The result is an intriguing body of work, which explores urban order and disorder. ‘They [the works] bring an extra dimension to the show with reflected surfaces and colours,’ says Begum. Here, she explains the ins and outs of metal manipulation and why 3D art is her preferred medium.
How did you mould the metal?
For this new body of work the main material is mild steel, which is cut and folded by a fabricator out of house. Usually I send detailed instructions on the measurements or angles of the folds. They then arrive to the studio for me to attach the brackets. The larger folded works have to be painted out of house as they are too big to handle in the studio – we are not set up for solvent based paints, which have a very strong smell. The fabricators paint with the colours I pick from the pantone colour book. The benches are made of birch ply and veneered, and again these are fabricated out of house where I work closely with an engineer and painter to get the end result.
How long did each piece take to make?
The time it takes varies from piece to piece; smaller folded works can take a week and larger ones, a few weeks. Usually we work on a variety of pieces at the same time as there is a lot of waiting for paint to dry. The benches took a long time as I had to figure out a lot of technical issues. Even though it may look simple, its incredibly complicated geometry. The form twists as it extends, which changes the angle of the joints making the building very complicated.
What interests you about 3D art?
I’m fascinated by the three-dimensionality of the work as it allows one to interact with the pieces. Though the work is static they are activated by the mobility of the viewer. The work is not about grabbing attention and then that is all – it’s about being able to discover something new each day, keeping the viewer interested for a long time.
In what way do the pieces explore urban order and disorder?
Through the experience of walking through a city and seeing things shift and change. It’s about how certain colours or forms can clash one minute but come together when viewed from another position.
What do they symbolise?
For me they represent experience in themselves, you see the work shift and change through a sequence of vantage points and you’re able to take in moments where the work might come together or alive for you.
How did you decide which colours to use?
The way I work with colour is very instinctive and what’s really wonderful about working on these pieces is that even though I know what the form and colours are going to be, there is always an element of surprise involved when you take the masking tape and paper off and hang the work on the wall. You are really unable to predict how the shape of the colour can affect each other and vice versa.
How does light play a role in this exhibition?
For the past five years my studio has had no natural light and I have been craving to see what natural light does to each work when it’s finished. I recently opened up a window in my studio and it has made me realise why I am interested in the effect that natural light has on the work. It brings the work to life, it changes the work throughout the day, month or year, renewing your perception of it and also allowing you to have a renewed experience.
Exhibition: No 10’ until July 30 at The Third Line, Street 6, Al Quoz 3 (04 341 1367).
Artist: Rana Begum
Price of works: Dhs35,000-Dhs65,000