Wadia Boutaba is a young artist who also sheds light on women’s lives and what it means to be female. Feminism is a key theme and often informs the critical reception her work receives.
In fact Boutaba occupies interstices and is very much inspired by the duality of her Moroccan and British heritage
Boutaba calls herself the “Moroccan Artist” and her use of colour and the vivid depiction of Morocco’s unique society is redolent throughout her paintings. Yet there is a knowing which emanates from her British experience and education.
Boutaba says: ‘The struggle of being influenced by two very different societies and cultures is not something you can really be taught to handle. Finding a balance is always difficult.’ Therefore her work both concurrently celebrates and challenges the notion of what was once seen as ‘women’s experience’.
Patriarchal lineage is disrupted as Boutaba overtly questions accepted norms. Her work explores these female experiences as a residue of cultural influence. The exotic and the everyday are carefully balanced in works such as Untitled 1205. So is the conundrum of being mother, home maker, career woman and challenger of accepted cultural iconoclastic beliefs. These complex identities can lead to a fusion of fragility and strength. This dichotomy is often presented in Boutaba’s work Untitled 1208.
She once said she saw the practice of art as a way of expressing not just a personal perspective but as recording what can be observed of the everyday. Consequently women in Moroccan culture often form the basis for her work. Her narrative arch was constructed through listening to female conversations. She has been fascinated by how roots and fibres are stretched and sometimes broken by the fragmentation of communities across different continents.
Boutaba makes little effort to hide her political interests or cultural perspective. Her paintings avoid the artifice of supposed neutrality as if to say her knowledge and experience is socially situated – please take note.
Similarities between North Africa and the Middle East also inspire her. So does societal shifts which have seen women gaining equality. Her use of colour underscores the profound change and celebration of the new. Sometimes Boutaba says her work is inspired mainly by feeling, and responses to what is actually happening within the immediate domestic surrounding as well as the wider political arena.
It’s the interplay of private and public, traditional and contemporary, female and feminine which is so intriguing in Boutaba’s work. Lahd Gallery is proud to be featuring such powerful work.