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Nasreddine Bennacer


23 mars > 20 mai 2023

March 23th > May 20th 2023

SANS TITRE, pastel, encre et poudre de me tal sur papier Japon maroufle  sur toile, 210x14

©Nasreddine Bennacer, Sans titre, 210x140 cm, 2022  

The other side. Negotiating an in-between, neither here nor there, a crossing whose absent itinerary sweeps in its path any notion of time.

This crossing, it is also that of Nasreddine Bennacer, one which he time and again lives, and relives, through his work. To the immensity of the sea, to the totality of the sky, and to this endlessly stretching time, he confronts the human lives that stumble over it, these lives whose finitude is all too obvious.

On the canvas, a segment of a tower; a fragment of an ocean; a fraction of a sky; with no beginning, with no end, with no limit, be they those imposed by the edges of the canvas. What hopes lie behind this tower (Sans titre, 2022), calling up an idealized Babel, if not those of beings bound to constantly reach higher, towards an unattainable summit? What dreams hide within this sea of no furrow (Je respire sous l’eau, 2020), of no route, if not the aspiration to a shore forever out of reach? And still this time, with no harbour, and which nothing holds back.

Pastel, ink, metal powder merge on the paper, while barely perceptible forms diffuse, deform, dissolve. At times a silhouette, soon a word; their contours, at first visible, gradually fade away. Seized and fearful, one imagines that the ink will continue to flow, and finally leave only a few traces, a few marks as though swept away by the tide. Fireflies, which light up, then go out; a last glimmer, a last word, a last crossing. To the paper, Nasreddine Bennacer opposes water; and the fight of the men and women whom he depicts becomes that which he engages with the canvas.

Capturing a suspended moment in time and in space, blurring hope and doubt, illusion and reality, lies and truth, the artist questions the very bearings that motivate this crossing. In their absence, the varnished and oh, so theoretical geography of maps comes up against the immensity of the elements they deign to contain – the sea, the sky, the earth. If Nasreddine Bennacer’s paintings stun in their infinity, his lithographs alert with the borders, arbitrary and fictitious limits, which they vainly establish. His intention grows more political: if laws cease to apply at the border, the existences and the hopes which maintain them alive know no confines.

One hears a cry, a word: once a plea, Baby, please don’t go, another a momentum, a call, Democracy, sometimes a banality whose resonance is only stronger: Tout doit disparaître, everything must go. A command, like this crossing: inherent, necessary. And so, everything goes.

Nasreddine Bennacer inquires: does an other side truly exist? Is it the one we project, onto ourselves, onto others? And what is the direction of this crossing, to him, to us, to them? The question remains unanswered, and the words of the writer Azouz Gegag (Mémoires au soleil, 2018) ring all the more biting:

The elders here dream of there,
the young there dream of here
their dreams cross in the Mediterranean, then drown.

Roxane Latrèche


February 2023

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