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date: 22 August 2019

Araeen, Rasheedlocked

(b Karachi, 1935).
  • Francis Summers
  • , revised by Atteqa Ali

Extract

(b Karachi, 1935).

Pakistani conceptual artist, sculptor, painter, activist, writer, and curator, active in England. Originally trained as a civil engineer, Araeen began painting in the 1950s while living in Karachi, Pakistan, where he and a few artists created art in a modern style that was not fully accepted in the cultural milieu of the time. Lack of positive reception in Pakistan prompted his move to London in 1964, where he found more like-minded artists and gained further exposure to contemporary art. This helped him to develop his practice, which gradually shifted from painting to sculpture. Araeen was especially influenced by the works of Anthony Caro and Sol LeWitt, and started producing objects in a highly reduced abstract vocabulary, becoming a pioneer of British Minimalism. He drew on his experience as a civil engineer when constructing grid-like forms using lattice patterns similar to window structures. His sculpture Second Structure (1966–1967) employed crossing elements imbued with political content and articulated his solidarity with the oppressed around the world. Moving to London did not result in reception so different from Karachi—museums and galleries in England overlooked his work and did not provide support for him as an artist. These acts of institutional marginalization appalled Araeen and fueled the politicization of his art and life. He began to make art addressing identity politics and racism and became active in groups such as the Black Panthers. In ...

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