b. Tunisia, 1978
Creating captivating and labor-intensive work with an idea of continuing the legacy of abstract expressionism movement from the 50s and 60s, Taher Jaoui’s paintings are rich assemblages of layered forms, vibrant colors, expressive gestures, and mathematics signs and formulas. Applied on canvas through a dynamic interaction, a physical back and forth dialogue in which perspective and orientation continuously change until all the elements are balanced right, these opulent creations are the artist's personal way of expressing himself.
Through a series of spontaneous movements, directly inspired by the way canvas responds to layers of paint and gestures applied to it, Jaoui compares his work to a dance routine with a familiar partner. And while impulsive and unconstrained in its core, the familiarity with materials is essential for the creative process that strongly depends on the ability to respond quickly and foresee the way the elements will work together. Layering pastels, oils, and acrylics, the artist accents the richness of his work by constructing a raw texture which directly captures the physical energy put into each piece. Serving as a channel to convey his thoughts, emotions, and visions, the artistic practice is Jaoui's source of confidence and peace, while the finished work becomes a documentation of the process of achieving those feelings.
Without any formal art education, his artistic practice is influenced by African primitive art, graffiti, glitch art, COBRA movement as well as the philosophy and attitude of post-war abstract expressionism. Varying from simple forms and patterns over familiar shapes that reminiscent of abstracted skulls, all the way to chalkboard-like scribble sections, the canvas surface becomes the workspace through which the artist exercises his ways of expression.
The concept of building something from a variety of singular elements is a direct result of computer science and engineering studies, parts of which are coming to life through abstract mathematics signs and formulas sometimes incorporated into Jaoui's entrancing compositions. This element, along with the spatial vision of the surface, once again makes a strong connection with early abstract expressionism concepts which considered ideas of quantum mechanics in their conceptualization.
Regularly working on a large scale, the works which are exclusively built in an automatic or subconscious manner, are actually demanding careful planning and utilization of space and materials. While balancing between his thoughts and feelings while creating, Jaoui's work carries that sense of rebellious, anarchic, highly idiosyncratic and, some might say nihilistic feel to it, yet still constructing an endless base for viewer-dependent interpretation and experience.