Tunisia my first visit , Gabriella Cleuren, 2008

Tunisia my first visit

Gabriella Cleuren


Taking part in :  Le 6-ème festival international des arts plastiques in  Monastir in 2008 on invitation of the organization : a museum for Monastir. From 31.8 to 12.9 , 2008  I took part in an artist in residence visit in Monastir. There were 26 countries represented  from all over the world, most Europeans , Americans:USA and Canada,  Asia : Malasya and Turkey and  of course Tunesians. After a very loaded program of visits to Monastir,Kairouan and El Djem, Lamta and the town of Moknine , different museums of ancient mosaics and a visit to a Berber house and there living and food, the artists started to paint for the coming museum of Monastir.

The evenings were wonderful with concerts from Arab music, unforgettable archaic dances from Bedouins, and there performance.

The hospitality of the organizers brought us many evenings  to different hotels and there gastronomy.

The artists and I also  tried to work during the day, but not used to such temperatures I had to get up very early , like Muslims before the rise of the sun, to work in the morning to be able to let my creative mind function. ,and not blind the sun my colors.

The artists had to paint at least two canvases with there own inspiration of the country, under the title : Tunisia source of inspiration that was all over the places. But to select some of these in difficult conditions was the challenge.

At the start there was a reception by a friendly  mayer of the town, a visit to an exhibition of local artists and a visit of the governor of the region.

At the end the exhibition was build up at the seaside , very special, in a kind of open air auditorium .Every artist was contacted by the governor to hear his story about his work and vision about what he did.

I found the Muslim rule to get up before the rising of the sun to do the first prayer , something I see

as a very special staying in contact and respect for nature. Also it is a ritual that orders a mans life in a natural way of harmony with nature, for me as a western person. Perhaps Muslims are very much used to it and don't think to much about it I suppose , but I found it a deep religious practice. So it inspired me to do my paintings with this element. My work is very much driven by the content.

So it has the relation of the human being to nature as its subject.

One of my paintings : the third was about memory : the day and the night.

In the middle I am standing in my bathing suit in a kind of oval: my own closed world: standing on the sand and feeling the water of the sea. My head has two faces : at left,  the face of the day : clear and happy , and above the rising of the sun, outside the oval the things I see (a fisher fishing the sun , people swim )on the right the face of the night, sleepy , dark, and outside the performance of the Bedouins.

This is a piece of memory of Tunisia. This is the way I paint my diary with interesting and normal things of life as a trace of the 21 the century.

The contact , friendship , communication and understanding of the artists of different visions and culture is an enormous plus of these days.

With good feeling.

© Gabriëlla Cleuren September 2008


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