From December 14, 2013 to March 16, 2014, The Maeght Foundation presents an exhibition dedicated to the artist Djamel Tatah. This retrospective monograph is organized in collaboration with the Public Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Algiers (MAMA) and the Villa Medici in Rome. A selection of some fifty works (46 paintings including some very large-scale polyptychs and a set of prints) allows us to discover his work since the late 1980s. Djamel Tatah has built a silent and inhabited universe that has made him one of the major artists of the representation of the human figure at the moment when he has reached maturity.
Djamel Tatah was born in 1959 in Saint-Chamond in the Loire. During his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Saint-Etienne (1981-1986), he discovers many affinities with American abstract painting of the 1940s-1950s, English and German painting of the 1950s-1970s as well as Arte Povera.
His early paintings represent figures in a unique way on colored backgrounds where successive layers reveal the brushstrokes. With a few exceptions, he chooses not to name these works so the viewer is not brought into an explicit narrative or documentary interpretation.
In 1989, he moved to Marseille where he develops an important part of his creative method. Later on, he combines the ancient technique of wax painting and photography, and then digital technology in 1994. He stages his life-size human figures, without ground line, in colorful and geometric spaces that accentuate the search for uniformity of the layout to make the paint surfaces come alive.
Figures and backgrounds appear as two inseparable elements connected in parallel by the superposition of juice color. A tense dialogue occurs between these intense, vibrant spaces and the figures that are stripped of any expression; solitary, discreet, head-on.
In 1996, his use of the traditional chassis (replacing the salvaged wood used until this point) makes it easier to produce large-scale works on themes that are implicitly drawn: urban life, war, demise, sleep. This is an opportunity for the artist to create specific paintings in which the same figure is reproduced more than a dozen times. Repetition has emerged as a way to experiment with an abstract representation of modern man. In a more sustained way, abstraction monopolizes reality; not to take away the representation but to give it more body and presence.
The artist has had exhibitions, most notably, at the Eric Dupont gallery, the Liliane and Michel Durand-Dessert gallery in 1999 and at the Kamel Mennour gallery in 2006 and 2008. Numerous solo and group exhibitions have punctuated his career: at the Art Center of Salamanca (2002), the Museum of Grenoble (2004), MAC Lyon and Canton Museum (2005), the Centre Pompidou (2006), Contemporary Art Center Le Parvis in Tarbes (2007), the Triennale "La Force de l'Art", the Grand Palais (2008), the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nantes (2008), the MAMAC Nice (2009), the Macval, the Villa Medici, the Contemporary Art Center " Le Creux de l’Enfer " in Thiers (2010), the Château de Chambord, the National Centre for the History of Immigration (2011), the Lambert Collection in Avignon, the Bernard Magrez Institute in Bordeaux, the Von der Heydt Kunsthalle Wuppertal, Germany (2012) and the Friche de la Belle de Mai in Marseille (2013). After his solo exhibitions at the MAMA in Algiers in the autumn and at the Maeght Foundation from December 14, 2013 to March 16, 2014, the artist will present a series of recent paintings at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Saint-Etienne in June 2014 .
The exhibition catalog includes texts by Eric de Chassey, director of the French Academy in Rome - Villa Medici, Mustapha Orif, Director General of the AARC, Mohammed Djehiche, director of the MAMA, Ashok Adicéam, Director of the Bernard Magrez Cultural Institute, Carolina Archat and Olivier Kaeppelin, director of the Fondation Maeght.
The exhibition is organized in partnership with the Public Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Algiers (www.mama-dz.com) and the French Academy in Rome - Villa Medici.