My love for Morocco stems from it’s food, furniture & clothing, and it’s definitely on my bucket list for destinations to visit. Through research of this fascinating country, I accidentally stumbled upon a female Moroccan artist, Lalla Essaydi, whose work reminded me a lot of one of my favorite artists called Shirin Neshat.
Essaydi, who was raised in Morocco and Saudi Arabia, currently lives between NYC, Boston and Morocco, and now works as both a photographer and a painter. Her art is a representation of the complexities of the Arab female identity and her body, arabic calligraphy, infused with the artists own personal experiences. Her collections have been inspired by the Orientalist paintings in the 19th century, and are an infusion of of Islamic and Arabic culture that capture the West’s fascination of the harem, the veil & burqa, and the odalisque.
“In my art, I wish to present myself through multiple lenses — as artist, as Moroccan, as Saudi, as traditionalist, as Liberal, as Muslim. In short, I invite the viewer to resist stereotypes.”
Essaydi’s artwork consists of layers and layers of calligraphy, all drawn in by hand using Henna, on all visible surfaces such as walls, clothes, and bodies. Her subjects are usually portrayed in solitude in a relaxed and pure manner reminiscent of a bygone era, and almost always dressed in white (a color worn during mourning for Moroccan women).
Her photographic portraits can be found in many private and public collections around the world, including The British Museum,London.