Two artists in Tunisian art scene, Thameur Mejri and Slimen Elkamel

Posted by Maxence Zabo on

Engaged for the development of the contemporary Maghrebi artistic scene, the Attijariwafa Bank Foundation opened a series of meetings on June 13, 2019, in Casablanca (Morocco). The theme "Contemporary African Art: what perspectives for which markets?” allowed Mouna Kably (Head of the Publishing and Debates Division) to highlight the "historical cultural time of the African art scene and the enthusiasm generated by the works of her young artists". This event gives us the opportunity to present to you two emerging Tunisian artists, Thameur Mejri and Slimen Elkamel.

These two painters, formed at the Institute of Fine Arts in Tunis, went to the soaring of the plastic creation of the country since the Revolution of Jasmin in 2010. This period of political and social crisis, resulting in a liberation of popular expression, offers fertile ground for contemporary artists. Many questions are raised, on the body, on religion, on morale and democracy, the answers are not yet unanimous.

In a June 2018 interview to Harper Bazar Arabia, Thameur Mejri recalls his role as an artist: "I do not give answers-on the contrary, I want to answer questions, to feel uncomfortable, to get lost, to feel moved". His work War outside questions the surreal violence of the civil war and the relationship to the faith. Besides the pastel shades, the gray line of Mejri limits the supposed fantasy of the forms. The meeting of ideas and bodies is transformed into shock, into a smog from which monsters fuse. The crisis reveals the darkest paradox of man, between ghostly figures and fluorescent colors in the Herectic Spaces series.

War outside, Thameur Mejri, mixed media on canvas, 180x140cmHeretic spaces, Thameur Mejri, mixed media on canvas, 180x140cm

 War outside, Thameur Mejri, mixed media on canvas, 180x140cm

Heretic Spaces, Thameur Mejri, mixed media on canvas, 180x140cm


Like Mejri, Slimen Elkamel dissects the image, the composition and the poetry of a society. His works, such as In the Street (2019), are full of signs forming a language that evolves in a troubled iTunisian context. He says, "Simple daily movements do not spring from emptiness, they are charged with an intense political and social history that generates and builds them. ". In addition, the creation is an echo to the current situation, of which Slimen Elkamel paints the lack of readability. The figures that are repeated are strange and lifeless, like silent.

In the Street, Slimen Elkamel, acrylic and transfer on canvas, 150x150cm

In the Street, Slimen Elkamel, acrylic and transfer on canvas, 150x150cm


The young Tunisian artists claim an imaginary probably stifled in the past. They question the suspended environment, from which the spectator must draw the answers. Drawing on abstract and popular modernist codes, they commit themselves to a reappropriation of the body and the dream. These artists still lament the lack of visibility of the Maghreb artistic scene, however boiling. Cultural initiatives struggle to find political support and attract the general public.

Written by Maxence ZABO