Innocente is the second solo show of the Franco-Algerian artist Dalila Dalléas Bouzar in Abidjan.
Through painting and performance, the artist blends the intimate and the social by grounding the criticism of the current status of women in a process between the empty and full spaces that form the basis of her plural identity. Dalila Dalléas Bouzar focuses on women’s power as a transmission, an object of contestation and today as a claim.
In her works, Dalila Dalléas Bouzar shares her reflection on the place of women in society, choosing to make their bodies the central element of her paintings. Through her work, the artist creates a process of displacement and thus of liberation for the bodies, from their position as vehicles of patriarchy and the dominations that accompany it, both physically and symbolically. The word “Innocente” resonates strongly, like a hope, a struggle, a shout.
The artist here continues her work of appropriating the codes of Western painting, as the basis of her work, by shaking up the regimes of representation of the female body, through a series of paintings entitled Sorcières and the embroidered tapestry Adama, the main piece in the exhibition, created during a residency in Algeria. Through these works, Dalila Dalléas Bouzar invokes ancestral collective memories in order to infuse our imaginations with images of women transfigured by their own strength.
The tapestry, Adama, is inspired by a technique of gold thread embroidery traditionally used in Algeria at weddings, in garment worn by the bride to-be. This piece illustrates the reversal of an arbitrary vertical dependence towards a new order of things. Adama carries with it a whole line of women: those who make up the artist’s Algerian family, the embroiderers and seamstresses who made it and, more broadly, the woman, in her plurality and globality, inevitably concerned by the question of the symbolism of her body. Originally intended and reserved for warlords, karakou became a wedding ritual dress worn by the bride. Today, Dalila Dalléas Bouzar wishes once again to appropriate its symbolic function to make it a tool of power in the service of women’s liberation. A displacement thus takes place, from a situation of submission to a return to a position of power.
Responding to this tapestry, which makes up the heart of the exhibition considered as a body – the body being in its turn considered as a place -, are the female nudes, with contrasting colours. Dalila Dalléas Bouzar overturns the codes of classical painting: some features remain unfinished, the genre of oil painting is shaken up by fluorescent colours in the background and the perspective is deconstructed before being subtly recreated by the placement of volumes. Beyond the flashes of colour, two shades stand out most to the viewers’ eyes: black and gold. The first brings an almost mystical dimension and becomes a material from which light springs, whilst the second is a symbol of power, of transmission, of the sacred.
Dalila Dalléas Bouzar’s painting is a profound and plural language, made up of invisible knowledge and a heritage transmitted in a fragmented way, which one has to recapture. The performance that will accompany the exhibition will be driven by this need for the artist to position herself in a filiation and thus to provoke a process of transgenerational liberation, by giving the woman her rightful place, the one that each one wishes to give herself. In Innocente, Dalila Dalléas Bouzar makes us experience the power of the reclamation of pictorial language and puts us in touch with a constellation of experiences, memories and voices.
Dalila Dalléas Bouzar was born in 1974 in Oran, Algeria. Lives and works in Bordeaux, France.
The artist questions the status of the painter, art history, and representation as a tool of power. Painting fuels her ongoing research, born from her revolt against the condition of women and the domination patterns.
By reinterpreting archive images extracted from Algeria’s history, she explores individual and collective memory in Algérie Année Zéro (Algeria Year Zero), 2012 or Princesses, 2015, as well as the fantasy image of the Orient in the series Femmes d’Alger d’après Delacroix (Women of Algiers after Delacroix), 2012- 18. In the series Omar, 2018 or Saint-Georges et le dragon (Saint-Georges and the Dragon), 2018, she seeks to paint invisible identities into the field of past and current dominant representations.