left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Life through art

Updated: 2013-03-15 11:15
By Ji Xiang ( China Daily)

Life through art

Fathiya Tahiri poses in front of one of her paintings, Clown, on the first day of her exhibition in Beijing. Photos by Ji Xiang / China Daily

Life through art

Night in Beijing on display at Fathiya Tahiri's Beijing exhibition.

Moroccan artist Fathiya Tahiri has developed a reputation for reinvention through her work and rcently took an introspective look over the past decade with an exhibition in Beijing

Moroccan artist Fathiya Tahiri is hoping to win over a Chinese audience with a solo exhibition of her work in Beijing's National Art Museum of China.

The theme of the exhibition, launched on Feb 28, is "introspection," she says, in particularly about the past decade of her life.

It's two years since she has exhibited her work in China - the last time was at Shanghai Art Museum - but she says she has deep affection for the country.

"I love China. The first time I came to China was 24 years ago. Every year I come back to China. For me it's familiar. It's a great honor for me to be here," she says.

Tahiri views the Beijing show as a kind anniversary of the event that gained her global recognition, when in 2002 she exhibited her work in Venice under the patronage of King Mohammed VI.

For her, art is about immediacy; a means to express "now". "Here now in painting, we can find a new dynamic, a new dynamic with all the stories. And if we mix all the stories, we have something new and dynamic," she says.

"I think my painting is similar to modern Chinese painting and I hope Chinese people like my painting."

Tahiri paints on a variety of materials, including paper, plexi-glass and fabric. Through her colorful abstract sketches she attempts to deliver messages about freedom, and express those moments in her life when she felt in complete control.

While taking control of one's own life is a concept of her work, she also views art as a risk. "It is also a step into the unknown, a walk in a hollow space, a risk of which I am aware and to which I commit myself," she says.

For her sculptures, she often imagines them first before picking a material to work in. She talks about them as solutions to mathematical equations. Only when the equation has been solved does she realize how obvious the answer was, she says.

Tahiri also makes jewelry, typically with exaggerated and striking forms designed to catch the eye. Both necklaces and bracelets were on display at her Beijing exhibition.

Tahiri was born in Morocco's capital Rabat in 1959 and spent her childhood between there and Casablanca. She showed early artistic talent as a child, making sculptures using candles, clay, earth and fabric. She began to develop a serious interest in art in her mid-teens and then aged 18 moved to Paris to study architecture.

In Paris, she spent time immersing herself in the city's galleries, museums and artistic community, an experience that matured her creative ideas.

In 1986, she returned to Morocco to work as an architect in Rabat, where she worked on several major urban projects. But she maintained her interest in art and began to hold private exhibitions of her work, showing sculptural furniture at the Mohamed V Theatre in Rabat as well as local art galleries.

Her breakthrough came in 2002 when she was invited to exhibit her Sculptures II Per Corpo in the Napoleonic Wing of the Correr Museum in Venice. That led to international recognition and she went on to hold successful shows across the world, developing a growing reputation for reinvention along the way. In 2003, she exhibited at the Open Arte and Cinema film festival in Venice and the following year at the Artcurial Gallery in Paris. In 2005 and 2009, she represented Morocco at the Venice Biennial.

While her art is known for its fluidity, certain themes have been constant or strong throughout her work. The expression of ego has remained solid and this has steered her away from copying other artists. Love and resurrection are also themes in much of her work, as well as the cycles of humanity.

"My life seems to be a permanent cycle where resurrection is the outcome of my paintings. When I paint, with feelings, I feel as free as the day I was born," she says.

Her inspiration can come from anything, she says, and this lack of limitation has allowed her to push limits and combine various forms of expression to unique effect.

"My inspiration, you know, is that I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. Each day is different. Each day is an inspiration," she says.

This take on life keeps her artwork fresh and interesting, she believes.

"I never do something that has one identity. I never do something like somebody else," she says.

Contact the writer at jixiang@chinadaily.com.cn

  • Group a building block for Africa

    An unusually heavy downpour hit Durban for two days before the BRICS summit's debut on African soil, but interest for a better platform for emerging markets were still sparked at the summit.