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Zakaria Rahmani (Morrocan, B. 1983)

Visage de ton autre

Zakaria Rahmani (Morrocan, B. 1983)
Visage de ton autre
signed in Arabic and dated '2008' (lower left)
acrylic on canvas
94 x 78¼in. (238.8 x 198.7cm.)
Painted in 2008
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Lot Essay

I use Arabic (my mother tongue) and French (the language of the Other) as audio-visual material to be transformed by paint as it touches the canvas and by my voice, using sound software. I create a series of visual and audio portraits that centre on questions related to the multiplication and division of the identity of the human being.
The words, letters and sounds form a haphazard collection from which emerge a face and a voice. The language becomes readable and unreadable, audible and inaudible, comprehensible and incomprehensible. It gives depth (layers) to the portrait and concretises the incomprehensible part between the self and the Other, between the self and its Other. The painting becomes a "specifications notebook", a first draft that defines a look, a nose, a forehead, hair and ears The letter and the face each in turn become illusion. I use a script that takes the form of sketches as opposed to calligraphy, which has an aesthetic and traditional aspect and in which letter and word are separate entities. Based on the freedom of movement and of the voice, whose rhythm follows the creation of an idea, the linguistic symbols and the resonance of sounds take on an expressive and narrative quality that I seek as an artist. By establishing a dialogue between painting, writing and sound, I also aspire to confront, question and renew the art of painting and its place within the context of contemporary art.
This work, which involves investigations and uses of writing and language in the creation of visual and audio portraits, gave rise to a vast project of productions, broadcasts, experimentations and research. This project, entitled From Right to Left, was begun in Spring 2007. It is significant that it came after I was an Artist in Residence at the Cit Internationale des Arts in Paris. When I returned home to Tangier (Morocco) after spending eight months living with the "Other", I began writing on the canvas rather than painting on it. I no longer painted pictures; I wrote portraits with the materials instead. The Arabic language is written from right to left, hence the title of the project. I use the plasticity, symbolism and aesthetic of writing to reveal and explain the notions of identity, culture and art that are generated by language. In concert with Arabic, the French language became a reality, my reality: the confrontation of cultures that is my life.
Over time, De droite gauche has become a real artistic endeavour that I feed by working with many techniques, mediums and supports. In addition to series of paintings, I create audio and visual installations, works on paper, performances and artist books that I consider as being part of a single entity. The confrontations, juxtapositions, textures, poems and significations proliferate with the investment and the attention of each spectator who enters the exhibition space.
(Zakaria Ramhani)

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