A Silky and Free Calligraphy

After her plastic arts baccalaureate, and several exhibitions in Casablanca, her hometown, Rajaâ Benjelloun obtained a plastic arts license at the University of the Panthéon Sorbonne where she participated in 1989 in the creation of a fresco. After a first exhibition in 1990 at the Association Art et Vie, she confirmed “her artistic maturity” in January 1992 by presenting her works at the Institut du Monde Arabe. She is gradually integrating Arabic calligraphy into her art, as shown in the exhibition, the opening of which is scheduled for this evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Hôtel Sélect.

If there are artists who resemble their work, and become entangled body and soul with it, the painter Rajaâ Benjelloun is one of them.

Fingers and slender nails seem to extend over the hard cardboard support to draw tormented arabesques like this frenzied waltz which blows like the simoun on a score of golden silk. There are also these green vines of hope, which twist into a flowery hem to represent the rebirth, the re-birth of art, of life. There are these gold-powdered lines that curve smoothly, like a painless childbirth, like an ovoid parturition where the first implantation of a fragile talent covers. In this sober and refined exhibition like a bouquet of broom on a crystal pedestal table, the eye travels through sinusoidal mazes, following the contours of a serene convolution before catching breath in a freeze-dried maquis of underwater algae. . But it’s not just the eye, all the senses are in turmoil: the caress of the steppe wind chases the foam of a sea breeze before seizing the blessing of a “khamsa” open like a hand of Fatima. In this strange gallery, without disturbing, there is not only the eye, there is also the heavy and mysterious gaze of the artist who lights up with a nugget of gold when she feels the visitor smell in the same direction.

Rajaâ draws, refines, weaves, chisels on edge, especially at night, in this moment of grace when silence arouses intense creative jubilation. His works are not finished archetypes intended to fill a box in the arrangement of an oriental prince’s salon. These are supple but fragmented fragments which draw the infinite, the unfinished, which suggest without closing off the space; they are myriads of lines that sometimes sting the soul and the skin like so many stings for the soothing peregrinations of the imagination. In Rajaâ’s work, the dream is not a luxury, it is almost an obligatory ingredient, an essential sesame to decipher the messages coded by the artist. Not to impose a mother hen exclusivity on all “these children” whom she agrees to show but which she is reluctant to part with. “I’m almost sick when a customer shows up to buy a painting”. But she ended up, the child artist born in “Plastic” from her high school in Casablanca, to make up for it. I am not a specialist in calligraphy of which I do not master all the codes. But no offense to the purists, calligraphic art is for me a resourcing in the original culture at the same time, as a suitable artistic bias to express all that I feel “.

Calligraphy is for Rajaâ, “a secret prophecy, a spell that imposes to go out of oneself to go towards the Other, to go Elsewhere. And contrary to what “hexagonal” critics think, his art is not a hybrid fusion of Eastern tradition and Western modernity. Even if she perceives in a pleasant way the generous intention of this cultural symbiosis, she seems to deviate from the reduction, caricatural to the cliché, of this statement dear to the orientalists of yesteryear.

Rajaâ Benjelloun’s words, itinerary, approach, both artistic and physical, constantly denote an almost obsessive aspiration for freedom.

The proof: even the entrance to his exhibition is free.

Exposition déroulé du 20 Janvier au 20 Février 1996 dans les salons de l’hôtel Sélect. Place de la Sorbonne, Paris 5°.