This African artist only works with artisans at the peak of their careers – cialisdfr
This African artist only works with artisans at the peak of their careers
This African artist only works with artisans at the peak of their careers

Spanning a wide range of media, from ceramics, stone, textiles, wood, bronze and Corten steel to paintings on silk, paper or canvas, Algerian artist Rachid Koraïchi’s works have been exhibited at the Venice Biennale and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and is collected by major institutions including the British Museum in London, the Miami Art Museum, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the National Gallery in Amman and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in New Delhi. In 2011, seven of his 99 banners from The Invisible Masters won the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Jameel Prize, in partnership with Art Jameel. Like the nomadic migrations of his ancestors, which were considered spiritual progress, his art was performed in numerous places around the world, including France, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Spain, in collaboration with master craftsmen specializing in centuries-old crafts or the most avant-garde crafts. guard techniques.

You work with a wide variety of materials. Tell me about the artisans you work with.

First, we will go back to the beginning of history, because the Islamic civilization, what it shows today in the 21st centurySt century, is precisely all this work of the “artisans”. But remember that the first part of the word “craftsmen” is “art.” So it’s important not to underestimate the aesthetic aspect because we’re usually not allowed to do figurative work. Figuration, even if I worked during my apprenticeship at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Algiers and in Paris and at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, is an art of symbolism, an art of geometry, an art of minimalism, because you have to say things you can’t say directly, you have to suggest. And then, you must not forget that I live on the African continent. Let’s not forget that Picasso, Braque, Klee, Matisse and others became the greatest world artists we know because of Africa. Picasso discovered cubism when he saw African masks, Matisse when he traveled to North Africa and so on, but when we work on what we know how to do best, we are immediately labeled as ethnic or folk artists. We are robbed of our culture, much like colonization, and told, “No, you are natives, stay where you are. We are the cultural greats.” This is also neo-colonialism. Picasso was a fighter, a man of the left. He did it because of the beauty, to say that Africa exists, that it is strong, but in the West collectors, museums and galleries look at it unfortunately that way.

Can you explain in more detail?

Look at the number of African art galleries, the hangars crammed to the rafters with African art, the major museums crammed with African art that has been looted from this continent and is still giving. This continent has never stopped this flow of art, an absolute continuous flow. It gives rather than takes, and continues to do so. I think we need to open people’s eyes to this extraordinary thing. Visitors to the exhibition should always bear in mind that even on museum labels we see the name of the collector, but never the name of the African artist or the African tribe, be it Nigeria, Sierra Leone or Gabon. These are things people don’t think about. It’s nothing; this is huge. And in this sense, I say that when I work with artisans, it is not by chance.

So it’s a carefully considered choice…

They are artists first and foremost and I always take the best of the best with whom I can progress and who become a family, a brotherhood. For example, I have a studio that I have been renting for years in Cairo, where I did my big project “The Invisible Masters”, for which I won the Jameel Prize. I have worked for years with the best embroideries, the best silk from Damascus to Aleppo. I’ve even worked in Michigan, on porcelain, I’ve worked in Iznik, I’ve worked in Cappadocia, in Turkey, on porcelain, in old churches that have become superb porcelain workshops. I’ve also worked for years at Factum Arte in Madrid, where a friend, Adam Lowe, has set up a superb workshop using cutting-edge techniques, so there’s always work by Anish Kapoor, Abramovich, me, etc. in the same workshop. In Barcelona there are porcelain, ceramics, two very dear friends who are great porcelain masters. I think of Mathilde de Grau, I also think of Marc Vidal, who are teachers at the Massana School and the School of Arts and Crafts, so it’s not an old-fashioned craft thing, it’s also very modern, people who have powerful working techniques.

Do you only work with artisans who are at the top of their craft?

Absolutely. The stitching is better than Hermès, the sculpting is better than the best you can imagine. It costs me a lot, true, because I finance my own work. I sell it for very little on purpose so that when I show it at a foundation or in a museum, then the eye will stop on the piece. I’m not a navel-gazer, even in my studio. My walls are white, none of my business. If there is work, it is already wrapped, closed and turned away from the viewer, because the space has to be in silence so that I don’t have a color that interferes with my reflection or the creation of something. Just like an orchestra conductor, when he goes to the opera or the conservatory, absolute silence awaits: no coughing, no coughing, no moving of chairs. When there is silence, he plays the music at that moment, in absolute silence. As for me, in absolute silence I begin my work.

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