Lalla Essaydi grew up in Morocco and lived for many years in Saudi Arabia. She attended classes at L’École nationale supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris, and them moved to Massachusetts, where she received her B.F.A. from Tufts University, and an M.F.A. from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in partnership with Tufts University.
Her art, which often combines Islamic calligraphy with representations of the female form, addresses the complex reality of Arab female identity from the unique perspective of personal experience. In much of her work, she returns to her Moroccan girlhood, looking back on it as an adult woman caught somewhere between past and present, and as an artist, exploring the language in which to “speak” from this uncertain space. Her work often appropriates Orientalist imagery from the Western painting tradition, thereby inviting viewers to reconsider Orientalist mythology.
Ms. Essaydi’s work is represented by Miller Yezerski Gallery in Boston, by Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York City, by the October Gallery in London, and the Tindouf Gallery in Marrakech, Morocco. Her work has been exhibited in many major cities in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and North Africa. Her work is represented in a number of collections, including the Louvre Museum, Paris; the British Museum, London; the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art; the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamston, Massachusetts; the Art Institute of Chicago; George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, New York State; and the Fries Museum, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, to name a few.
She has worked in numerous media, including painting, video, film, installation, and analog photography. "In my art, I wish to present myself through multiple lenses – as an artist, as Moroccan, as traditionalist, as liberal, as Muslim. In short, I invite viewers to resist stereotypes."
Crossing boundaries and expanding ideas of physical and social space are not new challenges for Ms. Essaydi. She has existed in many locations, and many fundamentally divergent cultures. She currently lives and works in the United States and Morocco.
They came from all over the Europe, North America and the Middle East. Gallery owners presenting their modern/contemporary art exhibits for four days at the lovely Palace Es Saadi in Marrakech.
And I have to say, I was most impressed with the galleries from Turkey. Russia. Even Saudi Arabia, a country I would’ve never associate contemporary/modern art with.
A piece by Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj who uses popular culture to depict his messages. Like this one presented by Matisse Art Gallery. How powerful it is!
Or the cool use of incorporating carpets into the piece of artwork. Of course I love the Sahara desert, so I loved this piece by Aladdin Garunov presented by Russian gallery Aidan Gallery.
And then there was the gorgeous photograph by Murat Germen of Cairo presented by a Turkish gallery. An image so stunning I think I need to plan an Egyptian adventure!
And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I discovered the works of Lalla Essaydi, a Marrakchia artist presented by Edwynn Houk Gallery in NYC. Mesmerized. Amazed. The colours and images so powerful. The thought given to each piece. Like the clothing of the model that matches perfect with the zellig. How I’d love to take this piece home with me.
If you are in Marrakech until Oct. 4, 2011, I highly recommend a visit to the exhibit at the Palace Es Saadi. If you did attend, please comment on the highlights from your visit!