Pulse | Monia Touiss




Moroccan artist Monia Touiss shares her time between Morocco and Spain in order to experience the journey, and the convergence, with an intellectual and artistic depth evident in her recent works. Enamoured of this symbolic journey between two similar cultures, she has striven to capture the experience in her art from a personal perspective and with a feminine touch apparent in her deluge of colour. Relying on the transparency of colour built on intersection, convergence and intermingling, Touiss’s colours capture the radiance of the Mediterranean. Her work is a conscious forging of the peculiarities of the space and the exposure of an open and multi-faceted identity.


Touiss is a graduate of the National Institute of Fine Arts in Tetouan, Morocco, which was established in 1945, and from which graduated a number of well-known Moroccan artists. Touiss enrolled in the Institute in 1992, and spent three years developing her natural talent. The Institute was unique in that it had an exceptionally academic nature, which Touiss, like other artists, adapted to advance her own aesthetic choices and to forge an alternate path albeit derived from this academic formation, but with a contrasting horizon. It is this that compelled her move to Granada at rst, and then to Barcelona in an attempt to deepen her experience, and launched her on a painterly adventure inspired by the convergence between two cultures towards a crossing open to multiple directions.


When we revisit Touiss’s early works, we discover a marked interest in subject. Her paintings were primarily gurative. She produced landscapes, still lifes and portraits. She painted the old town in exquisite detail manifesting her fascination with doors, windows, steps, alleyways and all that populated the town spaces. Through these spaces and colours, particularly the bright blue on white, she recalls a childhood spent in Northern Morocco with all its peculiarities of light and colour. While this experiment was to some degree, faithful to reality through its simulation of it, the artist is now at a di erent stage, a semi-abstract one.


Touiss begun to break up and penetrate this realism; she is camou aging it and working on making everything reality. Everything that she once painted clearly and with meticulous accuracy has disappeared to large extent, retaining only hints of it through colour e ects evident only to those familiar with the evolution of her work.


Monia Touiss’s artistic trajectory follows a natural and logical evolution towards abstraction. In this exhibition, Touiss shares with us part of her artistic experiment in a quasi-retrospective fashion as she exhibits works created between 2009 and 2014 executed in a variety of media and in various sizes ranging from small to very large, which re ects a certain harmony in her vision and the width of the artistic horizon of her work. What truly distinguishes Touiss’s work is the total absence of any sign, symbol or line. There is nothing but colours intermingling and crystallizing.


Any conversation about Monia Touiss is, in essence, a conversation about colour because her aesthetic choices tend towards colour abstraction through a play on the de nition of boundaries between the di erent colours and the use of crystallization techniques on the various layers of colour that result in an expert transparency.


“I have always been impressed by the evocation of this transparency of colour,” says Touiss. That, combined with the unintended e ects of colour that result from erasing its and retaining its remnants consequently suggest aging. As the pigment is absorbed and dries, losing its original colour, it results in unexpected e ects. At other times, the artist [Touiss] erases it in an e ort to create symmetry and balance between the components of the painting in the context of shade and light. This results in colour forms that contribute a visual depth to the painting that she guides towards exposure.


The artist has a large capacity to employ a variety of colour formations within a single colour, such that we are no longer able to talk about one blue, for example, but rather a multiplicity of blues mutating in response to the colours that they border or invade. Blue remains a basic colour, along with yellow, white and black, i.e. the main neutral colours. However, is it possible to separate the colours from the artist’s conscious and subconscious? There are actions that are intentional and others that are left to chance, but it is a ‘desired coincidence that has been deeply considered,’ (Roland Barthes). This makes us acknowledge that the body is present with all its senses, exercising its authority over the rhythm of memory, desire and dreams, for colour ‘is the self, and the relationship of colour with internal mystery transcends the relationship with line, form and light,’ (Paul Klee). Hence, the viewer needs to question the obsessive prominence of speci c colours and the absence of others. In fact, he may stand before a painting wondering why those dark colours invade the serenity of the work or why splashes of black accompany the blue in other works. Does it express an emotion that has long lingered through the journey across the borders of the two continents?


Original Arabic text by

Brahim Oulahyane


Translation by Sulaf Derawy Zakharia