Rasheed Araeen (b. 1935) is a London-based artist, activist, writer, editor and curator. In 1964, he moved to the United Kingdom from Pakistan, where he had initially trained as a civil engineer. Araeen is recognized as the father of minimalist sculpture in 1960s Britain. His work in performance, photography, painting, and sculpture throughout the 1970s to 1990s challenged Eurocentricsm within the British art establishment and championed the role of minority artists, especially those of Asia, African and Caribbean descent. In addition to his artistic practice, he took on activist roles with organisations such as the Black Panthers and Artists for Democracy, and founded the critical journals Black Phoenix, Third Text and Third Text Asia. Araeen organised the seminal 1989 exhibition, The Other Story: Afro-Asian Artists in Post-War Britain, which was held at Southbank Centre, London. Author of numerous essays and journals, he has written Art Beyond Art: Ecoaesthetics—A Manifesto for the 21st Century (Third Text Publications, London, 2010) and the autobiographical Making Myself Visible (Kala Press, London, 1984).
Araeen has exhibited internationally, with significant solo exhibitions, including Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2018), 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); Rasheed Araeen: Before and After Minimalism, Sharjah Art Foundation Art Spaces, Sharjah, UAE (2014); Zero to Infinity, Museo de Arte, Lima, Peru (2013); Minimalism and Beyond: Rasheed Araeen at Tate Britain, Tate Britain, London, UK (2007); To Whom It May Concern, Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (1996); Rasheed Araeen, South London Gallery, London, UK (1994); Strife and/or Structure, Modern Art Gallery, Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan (1993); From Modernism to Postmodernism: Rasheed Araeen A Retrospective, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (1987).
His work has been shown in notable group exhibitions, including Constructed Worlds. A Choice of Sculptures from the Centre Pompidou, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2019); the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial, Brisbane, Australia (2018–19); Documenta 14, Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany (2017); the 57th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2017); The Tanks: Art in Action, Tate Modern, London (2012–13); Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China (2012); Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea (2012); Migrations at Tate Britain, London, UK (2012); The Mediterranean Project, Thessaloniki Biennale, Thessaloniki, Greece (2011); Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba (1994), Live in Your Head, Museu do Chiado, Lisbon, Portugal (2001); Sydney Biennale, Australia (1998); 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg (1997); The Other Story: Afro-Asian Artists in Post-War Britain, Hayward Gallery, London, UK (1990, then travelled to Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton, UK, and Manchester City Art Gallery and Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK); Magiciens de la terre, Centre Georges Pompidou/La Villette, Paris (1989); and Art of Society at Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1978).
Araeen’s work is included in the public collections of the Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi, UAE; Tate, London, UK; M+, Hong Kong; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK; Arts Council of England; Canal+, Paris, France; Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan; Wifredo Lam Center, Havana, Cuba; Imperial War Museum, London, UK; Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania; Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE; Pompidou Centre, Paris, France; Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (NY), USA; ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, India; Gwangju Biennale Foundation, Gwangju, South Korea; and Samdani Art Foundation, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Araeen is the recipient of honorary doctorates from Southampton University, East London University and Wolverhampton University.