Wadia Boutaba is a young artist whose work sheds light on women’s lives and examines what it means to be female in both Western and Middle Eastern culture, often taking a feminist stance. Her work is informed by her combined Moroccan and British heritage, exploring the complexities that can arise from this dual identity. As the artist 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.’
Dichotomies are prevalent throughout her work, presenting us with intriguing and often challenging narratives. Elements drawn from both cultures are visually apparent in her work: her strong use of colour and the vivid depiction of Morocco’s unique society are redolent throughout her paintings, whilst there is an understanding of Western art history which stems from her British experience and education.
Her work also concurrently celebrates and challenges the notions of femininity and womanhood, dismissing the patriarchal understanding of a ‘woman’s place’ in society as a bi-product of cultural influence. The exotic and the everyday are carefully balanced in her works. Thus she presents us with the female 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 within her subjects that speak volumes about the challenges of being a woman.
Boutaba’s intriguing narratives have been constructed through listening to female conversations. She is fascinated by how roots and fibres are stretched and sometimes broken by the fragmentation of communities across different continents. Her use of colour underscores her celebration of profound change and her embracing of the new. Boutaba’s work is often inspired exclusively by emotion, responding impulsively and expressively to her immediate domestic surrounding, as well as within the wider political arena.
Wadia Boutaba was born in England to Moroccan parents originally from Nador, north of Morocco. She was represented by Lahd Gallery in Wadia Boutaba: A Moroccan Art Feast in 2012 and at the Singapore Art Fair in 2014. She also spends her time indulging in poetry and literature.