Rashid Rana is one of Pakistan’s most celebrated artists, and is widely considered one of the leading artists of his generation in South Asia today. Initially trained as a painter, Rana is now famous for pioneering new media art from Pakistan. He recently became publicly known for creating the mesmerising exterior of the Pakistan Pavilion at the World Expo, Dubai.
On the 23rd of March 2022, earlier this month, he received the Sitara-i-Imtiaz from the President of Pakistan. Rashid Rana says, “I am humbled and grateful for this honour. I strongly believe that creative practitioners have an important role to play in the society. They must be part of larger discourse in the region and beyond. I hope recognitions such as this one given to artists help change the ‘status of artist’ in the society and pave paths for others.”
Notable for distinct ideas, imagery and pictorial strategies, Rashid Rana has worked in dramatically different modes, such as paintings, stainless steel sculptures, video installations, photo-sculptures and photo mosaics, Rashid Rana emerged on the global arena with his works such as “Desperately Seeking Paradise” (2008) and the iconic “Red Carpet 1” (2007) which in 2008 broke the record for the most expensive work of art sold produced by an artist of Pakistani origin until that time (USD 623,000 in Sotheby’s auction in 2008).
Amongst his various international accolades, he has received Excellence in Art award as part of ‘Pakistan Power 100’ event in London (2013), International Artist of the year award by SVAC (2003) and the Game Changer Asia Art Award by the Asia Society (2017). Remembering the individuals and institutions that have been a part of his journey on the occasion of receiving this news, Rana says, “There is no better feeling than being recognized by your own people”.
Rashid Rana is in the list of 12 Pakistanis issued by GQ Magazine in 2015, including Imran Khan, Abida Parveen, Rahat Ali khan, Fawad Khan, Nazia & Zohaib, and Ali Zafar.
With 22 solo exhibitions, he has participated in over 70 international group exhibitions. His retrospective, “Labyrinth of Reflections,” is recorded as the largest exhibition in Pakistan by single artist. In 2015, his work was included in a landmark exhibition titled “The Treasures of the World” from the British Museum, which was held at the National Museum of Singapore, and along with Rashid Rana’s work, had 239 objects from the entire human history. His works are in various public and private collections including the British Museum, London, Metropolitan Museum, New York, Fukuoka Museum of Art, Japan and Saatchi Collection, London.
Despite his international commitments, he maintains a low profile in Pakistan as he has contributed majorly in the field of Art Education with a pivotal role in the formation of School of Visual Arts and Design, BNU, where he is currently the dean.