Galerie Véronique Rieffel

Najia Mehadji

Najia Mehadji was born in Paris in 1950. She lives and works in Paris (France) and Essaouira (Morocco). By the 1970s, Mehadji’s oeuvre was already marked by a “tan­gible abstrac­tion” that derived simul­ta­ne­ously from con­tem­po­rary music and from her work on the body in the exper­i­mental envi­ron­ment of the Université de Paris VIII. During this period she pre­sented sev­eral per­for­mances that incor­po­rated drawing and sound; she also con­tributed to the fem­i­nist review Sorcières, which pub­lished her early draw­ings.

In 1974 she earned a master’s degree in visual arts and art his­tory from the Université de Paris I, and also attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. 
In the 1980s, Mehadji began to inves­ti­gateter­ro­gate the mate­rials of pic­to­rial prac­tice. She decided to employ unusual media such as gesso and trans­parent paper on large pieces of raw canvas in order to gen­erate sym­bolic, highly archi­tec­tured, geo­metric forms.

In 1985 she spent a year in Essaouira, Morocco, on an extra-mural schol­ar­ship from the Villa Medicis. Mehadji would later return there with increas­ingly fre­quency, pro­ducing her Icare series in Essaouira. This cycle came to a close in 1994 with the Coupole series, which explic­itly referred to Islam and sig­naled her interest in tran­scul­tural archi­tec­tural forms.

In 1996, Mehadji changed tech­nique and hence style, adopting large oil pas­tels that enabled her to draw long, con­tin­uous lines on raw canvas, gen­er­ating spheres of pure reds or yel­lows, which yielded three series known as Gradients, Chaosmos, and Souira.

In 1997 she taught drawing for a year as a guest artist at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Paris. Her recent works dis­play a sym­bolism related to nature, notably to the cosmos and the plant kingdom, estab­lishing a log­ical coun­ter­point to the geo­metric forms of her early career. Hence the “struc­tures of flux” as exem­pli­fied by the Fleur-flux series, in which Mehadji revisits the uni­versal symbol of the pomegranate, whose styl­ized flower runs throughout her can­vases, draw­ings, and water­colors.

Her interest in floral and cosmic themes can also be seen in three series titled Pivoines, Vanités, and Volutes. Since 2005, Mehadji has been pro­ducing dig­ital works that incor­po­rate details from engraved plates by Goya.

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