PAINTING WITH MY EYES CLOSED
23 JUNE 2023 – 06 AUGUST 2023
I do not like my paintings to be viewed as having a secret meaning behind them. I prefer that they are enjoyed like Jazz music as Jazz doesn’t follow rules or structures; there are no repetitive notes, it is free and chaotic and that creates the beauty that we enjoy.– Youssra Raouchi
On view from 23 June 2023, Youssra Raouchi presents a body of work that is rooted in the post-structuralist Rhizome philosophy put forth by French theorists Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari that refers to a non-linear network of multiplicities.
Rather than narrativize history and culture, the rhizome presents history and culture as a map or wide array of attractions and influences with no specific origin or genesis, for a “rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing.” Youssra creates her works from the wellspring of multiplicity within her own identity much like this; she is undefined by her tradition as a member of the Amazigh culture of North Africa, nor by the many languages she speaks, or by her gender. She does not confine herself to one medium, nor does she only focus on one concept or area of study, but is enamoured with multiple dimensions, questioning and examining the coexistence of polarities that ultimately make us human.
Each work explores the amorphous space between the dualities of the exterior and the interior, the spiritual realm and the physical world, culture and the core of personality, the social and the mental, surface and depth, behaviour, thoughts or feelings, and so on. Her experimentation with shapes, colours and perspectives is translated into rooms that are open yet closed, industrial yet dream-like, her exploration is seen in the gentle strokes of lilac that form clouds and impasto tones that form backgrounds. Youssra advances her approach to materiality within and beyond painting as a linear discipline. Each painting explores notions of space, sexuality, and identity, becoming a rhizome unto itself and transporting the viewer into another world.
Youssra places herself as the subject in most of her compositions – only analysing what has come forth after the work is complete. Painting her reflection has become second nature, the features she knows so well flow forth easily and render each work a mirror, not only to her state of mind but to the experience of the viewer as well. In most of her works, the figures are flat and abstract with only the face being well-defined, alluding to the paradoxes that exist in peoples’ identities – who we really are, what we pretend to be to the world, and the parts we leave unexamined.
In Painting With My Eyes Closed, Youssra invites the viewer to venture into the depths of their memories to cypher where the interpretations they form on their own truly originate. With the use of the surreal composition of spaces and vibrant distorted landscapes, childlike wonder meets mature truths of life at an equilibrium, presenting us with a state of pure bewilderment, uncertainty and the wonderful conundrum of facing our honest intimate selves.
Portrait of the artist courtesy of ADA contemporary art gallery