Born 1968, Lahore1994 M.F.A. Master of Fine Arts, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston USA
1992 B.F.A. Bachelor of Fine Arts, National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan
1996 Studies in Fashion Design, La Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, Paris, France
Among artists from Pakistan, Rashid Rana is the most significant figure today. The recognition he has received in international art as well as in the region is unprecedented. Distinct for his ideas, imagery and pictorial strategies, his work has been shown extensively around the world, especially at some prestigious museums in Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. His work is collected by institutions and individuals in the United States, Europe, India and many other parts of Asia. It has been auctioned at important international auction houses at high prices, amounts which no Pakistani artist has reached before.
Rashid Rana was born in Lahore in 1968. After graduating from NCA, he acquired a Master of Fine Arts from the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, in 1994. Instead of staying in USA, he chose to come back to Pakistan and continued working as a contemporary artist. Along with his stellar career as an artist he has taught art, first at the NCA from 1995-2002 and since then at Beaconhouse National University (BNU), where he is a founding faculty member and the head of the Fine Art Department at School of Visual Arts and Design (SVAD). Despite his international commitments and stature as an artist, he is still dedicated to art education, frequently supporting and advocating young Pakistani artists.
Painting to Digital Art
Since Rana graduated from National College of Arts in Lahore, he refused to adhere to traditional ways of making art and instead chose to making connections with post-minimal sensibilities and nurturing a self-conscious introspection of contemporary sensibility, creating his own language. He explains with a careful choice of words: “While I do have an interest in tradition- it does not bind me, I filter it into my work in a way that I continue upon it [tradition]. For me, tradition is continuity and I do not use superfluous stylistic conventions to demonstrate it or fabricate ties that don’t need to be extroverted as it’s innate.” His earlier works of large scale linear meditations when Rana did his master’s degree at the Massachusetts College of Art (1992-94) take on a more graphic approach from the practice of his mentor, Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq: the preoccupation with the grid and the development of a visual language. Rana always remained true to his vision from an early part of his career - without adhering to external dictations. His work evolved from painting to photo-based work - using a medium that surrounded people in their daily lives, hence something that they could easily associate with. This is something that Rana has become known for in the last eight years; his artistic resolution succeeding in attaining him a wider audience.
Artist of Our Times
Rana, in an intelligent way portrays our times in his work. He builds his work on the basis of what he thinks; therefore it speaks to the viewer rather than just creating a temporary visual experience. His work echoes within the viewer’s psyche and questions different aspects of our time.
Although Rana’s work comments on our history and the consequences in our present times, his practice is not driven from these issues. They are, nonetheless used as backdrops, such as the events that take over our lives and monopolize headlines -- suicide attacks, bomb explosions, popular injustices or something as complex as questioning the concept of ‘Identity’ that we face intertwining our colonial past and globalised present.
One of the most significant moments in Rashid Rana’s career is the ‘Grid<>Matrix’ exhibition held in 2006, a show where his work was placed alongside Modern masters such as Piet Mondrian, Agnes Martin, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol and Andrea Gursky. Another momentous occasion was the recent exhibition titled ‘Perpetual Paradox’ recently held at the Musee Guimet in Paris, where Rashid was the first living artist to have major solo exhibition at the museum, which houses Asian art and Classical Antiquities. Not only achieving personal feats, this international acclaim has shed some much needed positivity on Pakistan worldwide. Rana’s work has been making waves in major art auction houses as well, including the highest price of 623,000 USD ever paid for a work of art produced by a Pakistani artist.