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Offbeat: in Tourcoing, the inspirations of Picasso and the Arabian avant-garde

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L'institut du monde arabe à Tourcoing présente une exposition consacrée à Picasso et la culture arabe jusqu'au 10 juillet 2022. © AFP / Picasso The Institute of the Arab World in Tourcoing presents an exhibition devoted to Picasso and the Arab culture until July 10, 2022.

PICASSO , which has never set foot in the Arab world, has yet left a large mark, and makes loans. A source of inspiration highlighted by a pioneering exhibition at the Institute of the Arab World (IMA) of Tourcoing, in the North.

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The exhibition opens on two portraits with candle, mirror at 20 years apart: one by Picasso de His companion Dora Maar, the other by the Egyptian Samir Rafi, taking over some cubic codes.

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The exhibition, until July 10, wants to participate in giving" the place that is due " To Arab artists, often forgotten in the history of art, explains Mario Choueyry, one of the commissioners. In cultures where " sculpture, the painting " are mostly " colonial import techniques ", the Arabs " avant-gardes go through the digestion of Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, before To become themselves, "he said.

If Picasso did not travel in the Arab world, his works echoed there. The two manifests of the Arab avant-garde, published in Cairo in 1938 and in Baghdad in 1951, claimed from the Spanish master. It is thus discovered an imposing guernica transposed into the Syria of the 1980s, where the baisist regime represses the Islamist opponents in Hama.

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The Syrian painter Alwani Khozaima represents in a triptych a minotaur, a horse, helicopters pounding a tower of Babel.


There is a resemblance, but it's a reinterpretation

," says the galleriste Saleh Barakat, who has lent the work. " It's talking about the Arab world in the 70-90 ", and there is an " clean vocabulary ", with the rape of the horse which in the Arab culture is " the worthy animal that refuses to submit ". "

and this allows to show artists little known in the West, and to rediscover others with a new eye

" with " of the very talking reconciliations ", has further raised Saleh Barakat. For other works, the rapprochement is less formal than political, with a denunciation of violence, or artistic, with a work of abstraction. As with this portrait by Picasso of the Algerian independence activist Djamila Boupacha, then imprisoned.

Some traditional Islamic pieces, carpets and earthenware, are also exposed, another source of inspiration from Arabs avant-gardes. Their clean graphics and the bestiary also seem to resonate at Picasso. "

When we talk about Picasso, we often talk about his orientalism

", but never from his relationship with Arab artists, notes the director of the Ima Tourcoing, Françoise Cohen. " It is hoped that this exhibition opens an research field" on these exchanges and meetings, has it added. The exhibition will be presented at the Arab World Institute in Paris in 2024.

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