Curatorial statement: Constructing a point of view
By Brahim Alaoui, June 2013.
Driss Ouadahi is an Algerian artist, born in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1959. After starting a diploma in architecture in Algiers, he joined the Ecole des Beaux-Arts there where he took classes from 1984 to 1987. In 1988 he left Algeria and joined the Düsseldorf Academy of Arts where he obtained an MA in painting. He has lived and worked in Düsseldorf since.
Throughout his artistic career, Driss Ouadahi has created special links between architecture and painting. The resulting works are abstract compositions featuring grid patterns, whose density evokes the architecture of the outskirts of big cities and their tightly woven networks of high-rise housing.
Moving around this organised, structured and tiered impression of the urban landscape, and in trying to capture its spirit and movement, Ouadahi creates a space with a hybrid language, blending structured drawing and painting, where the vibrations of light and chromatic richness constitute a break with the rigidity and monotony of the structures. Large brush-strokes give volume and depth to the repetitive geometry in highly colourful compositions, creating a surface which is at once attractive and impenetrable and which leaves us wondering about life behind these walls.
The inhabitants may not feature in these paintings, and yet they still reveal something of the social, townplanning and ethnic policies that are embodied in their mesh. Evoking architectural structures without their inhabitants means understanding the complexity of a place that can never be reduced only to what it is in itself. The composition of Ouadahi's works, abiding by a poetry of architectural codes, transforms the visible into a metaphor tending to point out an invisible driving force behind that which we see. The power of the visible depends, then, on its ability to suggest the invisible, and in this way Driss Ouadahi uses architecture as an abstract visual context where he constructs our way of seeing.
Driss Ouadahi's work can be seen, among others, in the public collections of the Herbert-Weisenburger-Stiftung, Rastatt, Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Nadour Collection and Stadtsparkasse Baden-Baden.