Hosfelt Gallery New York to show paintings by Algerian artist Driss Ouadahi this autumnHosfelt Gallery, New York and San Francisco © by Hosfelt Gallery
The Hosfelt Gallery N.Y. will show the work of Driss Ouadahi an Algerian artist and architect whose paintings adress Modern Architecure’s failed promiss to improve the human condition.
Before immigrating to Europe and studying at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, Algerian Driss Ouadahi studied architecture. His paintings of the ubiquitous high-rise, the legacy of Modern Architecture’s failed promise to improve the human condition, are renderings of impenetrable boundaries of steel, glass and concrete.
driss ouadahi “fences 5” 2010, oil on linen, 200×170 cm
Ouadahi’s exploration begins with images of the enormous public housing developments in Algiers that had been modeled on France’s habitation à loyer modéré (housing at moderated rents). In North Africa, these monoliths accommodate displaced rural populations; in Europe, they house immigrants from former colonies. They are symbols of the politics of class, religion and ethnicity. Reminders of “otherness.”driss ouadahi “desenclavment” 2010 oil on linen 190×240 cm
Behind Ouadahi’s facades, the residents are neatly invisible. Even when the buildings are transparent, a lattice-like structure separates the viewer from the view. There are references to mashrabiya – the screened windows in traditional North African and Middle Eastern architecture – as well as to steel frame construction, scaffolding and barred windows. Boundaries abound.
In addition to the permutations of “cityscape” which Ouadahi has been exploring in the last few years, this exhibition will be comprised of two new types of paintings. The first are rigorously formal renderings of chain-link fencing that are both minimalist abstractions and a signifier of separation.
The second are depictions of tiled passageways, akin to subway systems like the Paris Métro. Fluorescent-lit and grimy, they are labyrinthian and claustrophobic. Ostensibly their purpose is movement from one place to another. But they feel more like blocked escape routes or morgues. They speak to restricted mobility in a supposedly global culture.driss ouadahi “traces” 2010 oil on linen 180×220 cm
In spite of their beauty, all of these paintings address dehumanization. Literally, they are devoid of people. Metaphorically, they speak to separateness and the unwillingness to recognize the humanity in those who are different.
A 48-page, cloth-bound catalogue with 31 color reproductions and an essay by renowned New York art critic Kim Levin has been published in connection with this exhibition and is available through the gallery.