A Retrospective, Rasheed Araeen
BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Review by Honey Robinson
19 October 2018- 27 January 2019
Rasheed Araeen, a man fascinated by ideas of movement and transformation, started off basic and simple, unaware of the achievements he was yet to discover. Beginning over 60 years ago, he’s developed a style from combining education, environmental and political into one. His creative and passionate mind has led him to create abstract and developed artwork. Rasheed's early work was developed and thought up in his home city, Karachi. Karachi is where he trained as an engineer, and his role in this played formative roles in his later artwork.
Rasheed’s artwork first started blooming in 1953, where he started experimenting with watercolour paints by creating simple landscape images. Up until 1963, Rasheed had a constant theme in his work which was ripple-like lines drawn down the page. This theme may link in with a fire and water type pattern. This then links in with Rasheed burning bike tyres in 1959. He done this peculiar act to get wire from the inside of the bikes to create his very first metal sculpture. From here, Rasheed's work dramatically became more intense and intriguing due to the abstract shapes and developed style. His work was primarily the product of his imagination.
This is where Rasheed's work really started to take off. Rasheed had moved to London and was ambitious to get his work out in the world. But would he? Rasheed was ready to start sculpting and began working with metal. As Rasheed was an engineer, this made him automatically more experienced in the sculpting world. Rasheed soon started to link his work into geometric structures, human interaction and natural elements. Rasheed also started to bring in what was going on in the world and the struggles surrounding it.
In 1971, Rasheed started to notice Britain was blinded by racism. This led him to join The Black Panthers movement. This change made Rasheed incorporate collage, photography, installation, performance, writing and editing into his artwork. He then started using his own body and image for the focus of his artwork, also for the representation of his work. This linked in what Rasheed's opinions were on the world and his view on political problems. This was a very controversial topic.
Rasheed soon after found a way to bring together his investigations into abstraction and geometry, along with his concerns for the politics. Rasheed started using cube shaped structures to represent equality, and he wanted everyone to be equal. He used the cubes to represent this by them being stacked perfectly, all being the same and very identical. For instance, if you took one cube out, it wouldn't be equal anymore. This shows we need everyone to fight for equality because we all help each other and need one another to stay strong.
And now, to this day, Rasheed's work has had a dramatic impact on the world and how people view the world. His work has brought transformation into the world and his conceptual diagrams have combined education, environmental and political problems to show things in a creative and mind blowing way to really interest and pull in the viewer.