The Algérie mon Amour exhibition: the artists of the fraternity gathered at the Arab World Institute

Arab World Institute
Until July 31, 2022

There are love stories that begin with a simple glance. This is the case with this exhibition, a real cry from the artists’ hearts to Algeria. The Institut du Monde Museum highlights a unique collection, unique in the Western world, brought together by the pair of collectors and patrons Claude and France Lemand. Here, three generations of artists tell their stories in a mirror hanging, bringing together the greatest masterpieces of Algerian modernity with daring modern creations that illuminate the picture rails in the colors of the earth, dry and ocher. A declaration of love from artists to their country, sometimes tender, sometimes heartbreaking, always moving. 36 works, 36 stories and just as many extraordinary fates of artists who knew how to overcome tragedy, in a vital creative impulse carried by their deep love of freedom. Women and men who use their art as the ultimate weapon against violence and oblivion. As with this symphonic painting by Baya, a talented artist, seen at the age of almost 16 years by the famous Aimé Maeght, just the one who had known how to discover Miro or Chagall … And if we initially give in to the irresistible attraction of these rare works of beauty, the contemplation of this magnificent bouquet of cultures and its constellations of colors quickly leave room for question. What is the story of this artist shouting his distress with his helping hand outstretched toward the sky? Who is this woman with piercing eyes and scarlet lips, as covered with ashes, that seems to scream in silence? Is this blood bordering on the fragmented contours of two intertwined bodies, of carnal passion or suffering? Who are these ghostly female silhouettes wandering between two worlds, signed by Abdallah Benanteur, one of the founders of Algerian painting? As a contemporary impressionist, the artist draws his light from here and elsewhere, mixing the sun from his original Mediterranean with the salty and wild atmosphere of his adopted Brittany here in Pont Aven. Opposite him stands the intrepid El Meya, this young 33-year-old artist who dares to challenge the myth of Emir Abdelkader by magnifying the pull of an immovable icon to the extreme. Each viewer (to use the poet Jean Sénac’s expression) will be able to feel these works through his own subjectivity. Will we in this scene see a generous banquet in a paradise of abundance, or would we rather focus our attention on the absence of the seven monks who shared this meal? It’s up to us to decide whether Denis Martinez’s playfully colored doors lead us toward light or shadow? It’s up to us to decipher Ben Bella’s sublime calligraphic graffiti mosaics, where the real key is the heart. A moving declaration of artistic love in this anniversary year, which celebrates the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence.

“Algeria is not just a country, but a beautiful feeling”. This quote, popular in the well-guarded city, another name given to Algiers, perhaps in itself sums up the soul of this exhibition. The Institut du monde arabe has in its Parisian surroundings invited three generations of artists, born between 1918 and 1988, to come and witness the intimate and privileged relationship created for their country of birth. For each of them, Algeria runs through their veins, so that even in exile they continue to believe in and cherish the dry lands of the Berbers. A unique link, which is celebrated today in the Parisian institution, which has chosen to unite the worlds of eighteen Algerian artists, by birth or by adoption, around their connection to this country. A moving statement about artistic love, rich in countless works of art (paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos and installations). The exhibition, placed under the colors of Algeria, thus contains lavish works by the greatest representatives of modern Algerian painting that have passed Paris, such as Guermaz, Issiakhem, Khadda, Baya and Benanteur, but also bold and colorful contemporary creations from the new generation of Algerian artists embodied here. the rebellious Zoulikha Bouabdellah or the very young El Meya.

Focus on … The women of Algiers.

Souhila Bel Bahar said of him that he was his master. The painter, born in 1934, reinterprets here one of Eugène Delacroix’s absolute masterpieces: The women of Algiers. Many are the ones who have rubbed themselves with it though. Picasso himself developed a fascination for the Orientalist canvas, the subject of all fantasies since it was presented at the Salon in 1834. Between 1958 and 2016, Souhila Bel Bahar signed nine versions of Women from Algiers, which operates several variations around this timeless motif. Here, Algeria marries the romantic master’s sophisticated in a bright and colorful design.

Around the exhibition

To accompany this touching exhibition, a true testimony to the love that artists have for Algeria, the Arab World Institute welcomes you every Sunday to a cycle of 8 conferences, entitled “The Sundays of Algeria”, dedicated to various exhibited artists. Thus, Halida Boughriet, Kamel Yahiaoui, Mohamed Khadda, Rachid Koraïchi and Denis Martinez will in turn honor you with their presence to discuss their work and above all to talk about the unchanging bond woven between Algeria and them.

  • Sunday, April 3rd : Halida Boughriet. An anti-orientalist art ?, in the presence of the artist
  • Sunday, April 17th : Camel Yahiaoui. Witness the two coasts, in the presence of the artist
  • Sunday, May 8: Mohammad Khadda. Artist and art theorist
  • Sunday, May 22nd : Abdallah Benanteur and Algeria
  • Sunday, June 5th : Rachid Koraichi. Emir Abdelkader’s journey and installations, in the presence of the artist
  • Sunday, June 19th : Baya. Myth and reality
  • Sunday, July 3rd : Dennis Martinez. An Algerian destiny, in the presence of the artist

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