After inaugurating the gallery two years ago with her show 'Mirage', the French-Algerian artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah lands again in Madrid with the exhibition 'Bizarre'. An exhibition, opened on September 19, 2013 goes through the relationship between beauty and strangeness, and will not leave anyone indifferent.

Photo above: Zoulikha Bouabdellah / Les Couteaux, 2013. Handmade knifes. Variable dimensions. Edition of 3 / Courtesy of Sabrina Amrani

"The beautiful is always strange. Contains always something strange, of unwanted, of unconscious", wrote Baudelaire. "Sleep is the form in which every living creature has the right to genius, their rare imaginations," added Cocteau. The beauty and the dream, the living and the unconscious, the familiar and the disturbing ... these are the variations and points of departure around which the exhibition 'Bizarre' is developed.

The strange, in a natural way, offers a space of choice. At the same time similarity and dissimilarity, in us and out of us, compromises us, implies us. It allows us to ponder like the French sculpturer Camille Claudel, sailing from the familiar to the strange, because in the strange we face the reality. On the other hand, there is a saying that truth is always stranger than the fiction.

The rare in Bouabdellah's work is first of all a matter of symbols and contrasts. And what contrast more surprising than that of the piece 'Les Couteaux' (The Knives), long cleavers with vegetable forms, alloys of knife and of flower, where one side shaves and cuts while the other grows and blooms? The restlessness appears in the edge of these plants, where death becomes an integral part of life. Definitively, the existence hangs only by a thread …

'Mauvaise graine' (Bad Seed) is an ode to breaking of rules. Emerging out of sterile concrete and obeying its nature in detriment of the codes and the sacraments, some flowers are thrown to life. They force the ordinary, are they are where they are not expected. 'L'Araignée' (The Spider) is a composition, an assembly of arcs inspired by the Eastern traditions. Perched but not fixed, this form inspires a feeling that oscillates between curiosity and fear, in the confusion of a fragile world with endless possibilities.

This confusion is also the root of a series of drawings in black lacquer, entitled 'Les hybrides' (Hybrids). Here, the contours present a free form, a machine or an insect, whose nature and intentions are impossible to guess.

Along the exhibition, which transports us from the vegetable to the animal and from the woman to the machine, Zoulikha Bouabdellah's work underlines how much of the imaginary is reality, how much of the bizarre is. The symbols and the signs are an essential component of ourselves and of our history.

image Zoulikha Bouabdellah / Exhibition 'Bizarre', installation view / Courtesy of Sabrina Amrani

image Zoulikha Bouabdellah / Exhibition 'Bizarre', installation view / Courtesy of Sabrina Amrani

image Zoulikha Bouabdellah / Exhibition 'Bizarre', installation view / Courtesy of Sabrina Amrani


Zoulikha Bouabdellah is the daughter of Hassen Bouabdellah, a film director and Algerian writer, and Malika Dorbani, ex-head of the Algiers Fine Art Museum. Following her birth in Moscow in 1977, Zoulikha Bouabdellah grew up in the Algerian capital until the age of 16. In 1993, while the civil war was underway, her family chose to leaving Algeria and settle in France. Since her graduation from the Ecole nationale supérieure d'arts de Cergy-Pontoise in 2002, Zoulikha Bouabdellah has been an actor in the Contemporary Art world. Her works deal with cultural duality and imbalances, as well as cultural fusion and the ability to transcend borders.

Zoulikha Bouabdellah has won several prizes: Le Meurice for Contemporary Art Prize (Paris, France), Abraaj Capital Prize (Dubaï, UAE), Algerian Prize for young Algerian creation and Villa Médicis Hors les Murs (AFAA - Cape Town, South Africa). She has been shown all over the world in fairs and institutions such as the Venice Biennial, Art Dubai, FIAC, Art Brussels, Aichi Triennial, Bamako Biennial, Mead Art Museum, Centre Pompidou, MoCADA, Brooklyn Museum, etc.

She has also done several residencies, most recently at the Art School Palestine in Ramallah, but also at Amherst College in the Massachussetts and in Cape Town, South Africa.

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