7 questions to Arij Messaoudi

As promised this week, we went to meet the Tunisian visual artist to discover her world. Discover our 7 questions asked to Arij Messaoudi!

Arij Messaoudi, Tunisian visual artist represented by the gallery la maison Melem France

How did you hear about the gallery "La Maison Melem France"?

It is through social networks that I already know the gallery "La Maison Melem France" within the framework of artistic research concerning the platforms and the art galleries on an international scale which deals with the female position in the field and the art market; this questioning of the "Gender" which privileges the contemporary and current art, not only in the plastic cosmos, but also that of the design, and it is what makes the originality of the gallery

Who is Arij Messaoudi?

I am a 25 year old visual artist of Tunisian origin, doctoral researcher in science and theory of the arts. I was also the artistic manager of an art gallery in Tunisia.

After graduating from high school in 2014, I attended the Institut Supérieur des Beaux-Arts de Sousse, Tunisia (ISBAS). In 2017, I obtained my degree of fundamental license in plastic arts specialty painting. Then afterward, I got my research master in visual arts, in the same institution, in 2020. And it is from 2018 that I participated in group exhibitions and artistic projects in Tunisia. The following year, I led training workshops of visual arts of which I tried not only to transmit practical artistic know-how but also theoretical given the importance of this science within contemporary art and the development of artistic research.

Currently, I am pursuing my doctoral thesis in science and theory of the arts at ISBAS in Tunisia, and my artistic approach is mainly interested in reminiscences. I use my amnesic images as a tool for visual and conceptual creation. I propose a redefinition of the image-memory.

The lived experience represents, in my approach, a path to reconstitution. The amnesia becomes a territory of reconnection of oneself sometimes with its conservation, sometimes with its alteration. It is at the same time a source of opening to a new life, and a witness of existence. My work revolves around personal life sequences that become the unifying material of a search for the self, which transits from a return to the past as a place of plastic interrogations to a neoformed present.

What does art mean to you?

Art is quite vast and difficult to define yet it exists everywhere. It represents a big part of my life. It is about expressing oneself through different mediums by a visual language to reflect on this world that surrounds us. "Because art is in itself a way to think differently about the world," says Montreal psychologist and art therapist Pierre Plante. It is also the way in which I contemplate the world differently; obviously in a particular way, since the artist addresses the sensibility, it is a prism through which the external world reaches you. Indeed, the art delivers us and delivers us emotions, it expresses the silence of the feeling while printing its veracity, it is to mix the vision of the others, to push them to doubt by awaking the natural curiosity of the men. It is vital, like the air we breathe, because it is through art that we can relax, enjoy life and have a confrontation to evolve.

In your opinion, what does a true work of art look like?

A true work of art must meet certain essential criteria such as universality, accessibility and authenticity. It should reach as wide an audience as anyone can interpret it. Art also requires a certain timelessness. Indeed, a masterpiece must reveal subjects that touch everyone in any era. A true artistic practice must respond to total sincerity and correspond to what the artist thinks by letting his personality and his ideas show through.

What was your first contact with the art world?

Since childhood I have been too passionate about artistic activities such as drawing, coloring ... I always feel fulfilled by touching colors, textures, pencils etc.. And it was my family that dug this gift to trigger this artistic awakening; moreover, childhood was my first step into the real world of art. Generally, toddlers like to doodle, dance, invent worlds, sing nursery rhymes, create animals from clay...

Indeed, this passion is carved, professionally, following my access to the Higher Institute of Fine Arts in 2015, where it was my very first contact with this artistic world; I discovered the spices of this world, which I loved more and more, each time we dive into it, while seeing the history of art, artists, exhibitions, art galleries, etc.

How do Tunisians view contemporary art in general?

The course of the plastic arts in Tunisia goes back to the end of the nineteenth century, when the Fine Arts in their classical and Western definition, appeared to be associated with all the local traditional arts from the Amazigh culture, the Arab-Muslim civilization of the Ottoman Empire. Indeed, the advent of plastic arts in Tunisia, in their modern sense, appeared thanks to the School of Tunis in 1949, which was the fundamental stimulus for the foundation of the Tunisian plastic artistic experience by sharing a certain idea of common cultural belonging and contributing to art that wants to be authentically Tunisian. And since the political revolution in 2011, the art scene shows a real effervescence; the Tunisian artistic practices have had a visual and conceptual revolution. With this revolutionary evolution and with the freedom of expression as well as the opening on the other, the glance of the Tunisians towards the contemporary scene is changed. The new paths of contemporary art have encouraged the emergence of art in society so that it becomes increasingly accessible to the general public.

On the other hand, for a slice, contemporary art, is reserved for an elite and is not accessible for everyone. For some, it is an art of madness, with the subjects, mediums approached or even the prices of the works or also the coasts of the artists who are in the perpetual rise, what moves away from a little more the general public of this art which it does not understand. A contemporary work of art, for some, remains like an enigma, difficult to decipher. Sometimes people are shocked when they are confronted with art to which they were not accustomed.