by Ellen Turner Hall

The summer 2018 exhibition at the Musée d’art moderne de Céret presents the works of Nadia Mehadji. Her large canvasses, with a palette reduced to two colours, are full of movement.

From the 1980s to the present, Mehadji’s works demonstrate her development from patient recorder of forms to the whirling, twirling freedom of her waves and dance series.

Najia Mehadji, Spring Dance (after « The Waltz » by Camille Claudel , 2011 Acrylic on cavas, 200 x 270 cm, private collection, © Jean-Louis Losi, © Adagp, Paris 2018

Franco-Moroccan Mehadji finds inspiration in a range of cultural traditions. From the oriental tradition come paintings of peony and pomegranate flowers and dancing dervishes. European influences include El Greco’s drapery and Camille Claudel’s exquisite sculpture of a couple waltzing.

In each room the paintings are coupled with an older work of art as a reference or starting point: a flowered Islamic scarf, an 18 century astrolabe, Japanese block prints of waves or Picasso’s “La sardane de la paix”. This gesture puts the present exhibition in context and makes the individual works come alive.

Najia Mehadji, Mystic Dance 4, 2011
Digital pigment proofing on tarpaulin. Shot and printed in Studio
Bordas, Paris, 200 x 200 cm, Galerie Claude
Lemand, Paris, © Jean-Louis Losi, © Adagp, Paris 2018

The series called “Mystic Dance” was created with a Korean brush which resembles a wide raft of smaller brushes tied together. Each painting was then photographed, enlarged and reproduced. Here is an instance of technology enhancing art, making every line, stroke and gesture visible, playing with light and shade, inside and outside, beginning and end.

Najia Mehadji La Trace et le Souffle at the Musée d’art moderne de Céret runs from 30 June to 4 November. 

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