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Rasheed Araeen
OPUS HB2
2017
Acrylic on canvas
160 x 140 cm (63 x 55 in)
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The Opus series (2016–present) is a body of paintings invested in the universalistic potentials of geometry in Islamicate traditions. The brightly-coloured canvases draw from and repeat certain visual motifs from Araeen's oeuvre – the square, the diamond, the diagonal. At the same time, however, these works seem to radically reposition some of the artist's long-standing ideas about modernism and the meaning (or purpose) of geometric abstraction. Araeen said of the series, "The notion of abstraction is seen to be a twentieth-century phenomenon. Historically it happened 1,200 years ago in Damascus. Europeans don't want to hear about it. I'm trying to connect to this forgotten history, which is not the history of Islam alone but the history of humanity, how geometric thinking allows us to perceive the world in terms of equality for all." The Opus series is a complex intellectual statement about the history of modernism, abstraction and Islam, as a body of knowledge, if not, for Araeen, a religion.