I am a self – taught artist with an unusual background. I had never been especially fascinated by art nor felt that I was predestined to be an artist. I come from an Arab – Muslim society that is often characterized by contradictory and sometimes schizophrenic qualities. However, as far as I am concerned, I often describe my culture as esoteric.
While in school, I did not study art, since I was often told that art was reserved for the elite. At the same time, since my childhood, I have always been fascinated by the beautiful and attracted by diversity. While I was never asked to repress my feelings, I had never been encouraged to express them. Throughout my personal journey, I have learned to restrain my emotions, to censure my thoughts that eventually ended up coming to the surface.
I have always been “different” from the others, often described as unstable. However, I do not consider myself unstable but rather as a human being in a perpetual quest. It is a quest for freedom, authenticity, purity, harmony and, above all, an undeniable desire to penetrate an invisible world.
Throughout my life, while on this journey, I have always observed the various components of my country, its incoherencies and absurdities related to certain situations. For example, we are an oral tradition culture, but the essential is rarely said. It is difficult to express directly and clearly what we think; rather, we feel the need to embellish our speech. Indeed, rhetoric is our common language. We also live in a culture where women perform the most difficult tasks in the countryside but are considered as the “weak gender." They are in charge of the children’s education but the father is the authority! Males are observing and harassing women passing by every day, but those same men will not accept if you compliment the beauty of their mothers, wives, daughters or sisters. In a sense, to me, reality becomes unreal.
I have always been unable to express my thoughts or my feelings; I have thus ended up pouring this overflow of emotion, misunderstanding and frustration onto a canvas. I am convinced that every single human being seeks its own means of expression in its own environment and well beyond. In my case, I developed my own means of expression that ended up imposed on me as if it was evidence.
I strongly believe that, as individuals, we all have to mark our existence, to bring some newness to humanity; this is to me the only way we can evolve. I don’t like banality or ease; rather, I am fascinated by originality and challenges.
This is the main reason why I work with sand. I consider sand as a material that is precious, free, profound, deep-rooted, powerful, warm, alive and discreet. It is evident for me that sand is inseparable from my being and my creations. I have tried to work with other materials, but sand is the only medium that allows me to faithfully transcribe my thoughts.
In order to develop my technique, the first challenge was for me to be like an alchemist, to invent a process allowing me to harden a soft and volatile material to make it sustainable, without distorting its beauty and magic. This was the first and most important step of my work as even in my creations I try to set my way of observing life scenes: incoherencies between time and space, the actual and metaphorical, the remembered and constructed, and to do so in a way that different audiences can perceive them.
The representation of the body is closely related to western art. Coming from an iconoclast Arab society, one that tends to western modernity while remaining rooted in Islamic traditions, I am in a sense haunted by bodies, relationships, and couples. Couples are defined here as a set of two people bound by deep unconscious feelings but also in a larger sense as a couple of friends, dancers, passers-by. I try to break society’s rule that makes us in general put human beings in boxes. Being rooted in a culture where representation is a taboo, this is the main reason why my work is always marked by a tension between abstraction and figuration. I create in my work a dialogue between painting and sculpture; I swing with different levels of reliefs and flats to bring a bit of life into each of my works and
When I am in the creation process, I remember my childhood marked by the world of women, and I try as an adult now to dissect the mysteries of the verb that I render as bodies, which I define in more primitive and sexual way as “flesh”. I fight against the rules of aesthetics, binding beauty, harmony and the ideal to return to reality. I try to convey, in my own way, to the neophyte that the essential is invisible to the untrained eye.
For me, since “sensation” does not exist in the singular, I try in my creations to fragment the image to express the bursting of perceptions to finally release my audience's eye and let them see the impalpable, the sublime.
I believe that as for human beings, a work goes through different moments: creation, birth, death, rising and finally get to life. When I want to make my paintings, I often start with a black and white sketch on paper before turning to the canvas as an immersion to the colour field; this allows me to have the “click” with my sands, that helps me to distort, amalgamate and hide the human representation to lastly deliver the final work.
To me, life should not obey codes, recurrent feelings, monotony; I try to stay loyal to myself and my values, while playing each time with shapes and colours to open my universe’s doors to the other. I wish to convey my culture as if I were walking on a tightrope, juggling with different values and identities without any misstep. I try to accurately convey my feelings without falling into criticism, or a rejection of the other.
I consider that we live in an era of globalization; however, I can notice that the cultural gaps between the west and the east are every day more significant. Trying to stay loyal and honest to my self, my sense of sharing and my adoration of human relationships, I try, in my own way to show the similarities of universal daily life scenes and emotions.