TRANSLATED FROM CASTILIAN
El Kamel: "Myth and oral narration have guided my artistic creations"
by Ruth Fernández Sanabria
The UN says that "poetry contributes to creative diversity by constantly questioning the way we use words and things, and our ways of perceiving and interpreting reality". The Tunisian painter Slimen The Kamel finds in this literary genre his muse, present from his childhood through orality. With him we continue to pay tribute to poetry, celebrated on its World Day this Wednesday, March 21.
"I was born in a rural community where myth and oral narration flourish. These narratives have guided my artistic creations as much as the perception I have of reality since I was a child," says the Tunisian artist. Coming from Mazouna, in the region of Sidi Bouzid, her childhood associated her with stories and poems, a literary heritage that built her first knowledge and certainties through what she imagined when listening. Later, at the Faculty of Fine Arts, El Kamel learned to materialize this narrative imaginary in a pictorial practice that eventually became his inspiration and his own style. For him, the line that separates the real from the imagined is a path more present in everyday life than we think.
As an acquired language, this visual artist explains that the image is an element deeply rooted in the person. So, often and in an automatic way, before starting an action we visualize it: we have to cook because we mentally scan the fridge, we dress according to the combination we have previewed of the garments and, often, what we We have seen in dreams conditions how we sleep and even how we face the day that lies ahead.
Today Slimen El Kamel is a 34-year-old painter who combines his classes at the Superior Institute of Fine Arts of Sousse with his pictorial work, which has remained focused on the impact that image has on people and, therefore, on societies what they form "Art for me is in itself an end. I do not perceive it as a luxury object, I feel it is something integral to life, like inhaling and exhaling. For me, art aims to raise awareness," he says. "My responsibility as a professor of Fine Arts, along with my interest in politics, have also led my work considerably to constantly reexamine our perception of things. This is how we progress."
To show his series ' L'Espace du Jeu' ('The place to play', in Spanish), where he questions through colorful and cheerful figures the restriction that in many contexts is imposed through clothing to project the desired image for an organization. This collection was recently exhibited at 1:54 Marrakech , the first edition of this contemporary African art fair held on the continent, a milestone that for El Kamel has meant "bringing home a sense of pride and recognition aimed both at artists like the city".
After showing his work at fairs in Africa, Europe and Asia, now Slimen El Kamel prepares his next solo exhibition at the Sulger-Buel Lovell gallery in London for the month of October. He does not tell us if poetry will continue being the muse of his new canvases, but he does want to point out that although his work "can be seen as universal, for me it will always be my work in relation to my home, Tunisia".
To view the original feature on Wiriko.org, please click here