Rasheed Araeen was born in Pakistan where he trained as an engineer, before moving to Europe in the 1960s. In Britain, he become one of the pioneers of minimalist sculpture. Despite this, he struggled to receive institutional recognition for his contribution to the modernist discourse in this country, often excluded or overlooked as a non-European whose work was consistently evaluated within the context of post-colonial structures. It was in response to this invisibility that his work – ranging from performance, photography, painting, and sculpture – began to develop a political edge, drawing attention to the disparity between the reception of the work of black artists within Eurocentric culture.
Araeen was a contributor to Iniva’s seminal symposium ‘A New Internationalism’ in 1994, and in 1998 exhibited work in ‘Aubrey Williams’ at Whitechapel Gallery, co-organised by Iniva.
Araeen has published numerous journals and articles, some of the most notable being; Black Phoenix, published in 1978, which was followed by the hugely influential Third Text in 1987 and Third Text Asia in 2008. He also founded Kala Press in association with Third Text to disseminate information on neglected African and Asian artists in Britain who contributed to the development of post-war British art.
In 1989 Araeen curated the exhibition ‘The Other Story, Afro-Asian artists in post-war Britain’ at the South Bank Centre. This was the first major retrospective of work by Asian and African artists in Britain, all of whom had contributed greatly to the artistic scene since the 1950s, without ever being formerly accepted as part of the establishment.
Araeen has exhibited widely including the his retrospective show, ‘Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective’, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2018) which later travelled to MAMCO, Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland (2018), BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, United Kingdom (2018-19) and Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia (2019).
His works have been included in important private and public collections across the world namely The Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi, UAE; Tate Gallery, London, UK; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, India; MAMCO, Geneva, Switzerland; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA; amongst others.
Araeen lives and works in London, United Kingdom.