Double solo show with Monia Ben Hamouda and Maude Léonard-Contant
Curated by Gioia Dal Molin
Istituto Svizzero, Milan
16 May – 29 June 2024

The exhibition NYX at Istituto Svizzero in Milan arises from a deep dialogue between artists Maude Léonard-Contant and Monia Ben Hamouda, drawing inspiration from the mythological figure of Nyx, the Greek goddess of night and chaos, and Anne Carson’s book Nox, which delves into themes of pain and loss. These influences merge to create an exhibition that explores the complexity of language and memory as means to express the ineffable and untranslatable.

Maude, born in a multilingual environment and shaped by her personal experiences, creates sculptures that bear witness to her memories and emotions. Her works, crafted on a base of medicinal pink clay, incorporate texts and materials evoking places and significant moments of her life, such as oxidized steel sheet, rooster and peacock feathers, and Himalayan salt. Each element is carefully chosen to evoke sensations and images tied to her childhood and past experiences, and the way Maude manipulates materials reflects a deep and emotional connection to her work.

In her work, Monia repeatedly deals with the meaning of language or the untranslatability of certain words (but also feelings). Her new work developed for the exhibition is a radical gesture: the artist dispenses with the forms from Arabic calligraphy often used up to now and plays with the visual and sensual power of turmeric. 

In the second exhibition space, Monia’s drawings and Maude’s two small sculptures offer a more intimate and introspective atmosphere. These works continue to explore the theme of language and memory, inviting the viewer to delve into the depths of the human experience and confront the challenge of expressing the inexpressible through words.

Photos by Giulio Boem