Blindness, Blossom and Desertification XIII, 2024

Monia Ben Hamouda, Mixed media on raw cotton (Puglia Blue handwash powder, Catalunya red soil, Pu-Erh red tea, olive trees soil, olive oil, henna powder, grass, charcoal), 235 × 195 × 4 cm

The paintings from this series come from a personal urgency to engage with the foundational necessities of art within ritual practices and the environment. Using spices and powders made from hibiscus, green lalo, ashes, charcoal, paprika, red clay, and soil on linen, Ben Hamouda creates textural references to rock and cave surfaces related to art since the dawn of humankind.

These visuals are the result of very quick gestures: of the hand, the throwing of powders, and brushstrokes mimicking Arabic text that the artist has practiced since childhood. The technical skills of the latter draws parallels to the art of calligraphy, wherein the writer keeps a blank page next to the work as a surface to “warm the hand”, thus also becoming a mirror exercise of her steel and iron calligraphic works of the series Aniconism as Figurative Urgency (2021-ongoing).