HAMZA BOUNOUA, ARTIST

Hamza perception of colors arose when as a young boy, growing in a Berber town like Bouira, lying on the feet of Lalla Khadidja, the head of a mountain of the Djurdjura in Algeria. Living according the climate changes, bird migration, harvest of wheat and fruits, the shine of so many colors and shapes could not just fade from his memory. Already during his early years of studying at the Institute of Fine Arts in Algiers, Hamza grasped those imperceptible variations transferring them into his first lines on canvas and gaining straight away recognition in Europe.

Mohamed Kadda’s talents made an impact in his way of seeing. Kadda launched his new ideas by designing lines, not pictures, in the way of seeing, much appreciated in the Algerian Modern Art For many, included Hamza, Kadda inspired many young artists. Hamza started to widen his own field embracing, like a mother, three civilizations. That is his birth path of African-Berber descendants and the writing of his forefather. For centuries, spoken and written languages lived happily in a parallel world around his background. Berber language and Arabic writing did not wrestled in his North African land but resumed the wealth of inheritance. They convened a message of respect between the elders and the new generation. Something that Hamza has grown to accept without questioning them. This might have shaped his way of being. As his work of art took another path, it did not change the soul of the artist.

Art is not written like a book with words. Hamza started to express his thoughts with shapes and Arabic letters in a meticulously stylized form. The latter created from very ancient languages and mathematical calculations. Hamza linked them within his own translation, only known to him, to tell us something like a story teller. This story teller has ploughed from his memory, visual pictures projecting them in his own way of seeing. African landscape shaped with gazelles, trees, valleys of lights and shadows were an early expression to tell the onlooker the source of his roots.

Since his work of art has been a constant reminder that civilizations could remain side by side interlinked the present and the future. In this message of hope,
Hamza’s world is positive and safe.

After moving to the Gulf State, few years ago, the proximity of an Islamic art surrounding propelled Hamza into a large scope of new possibilities. Decorative arts in brassmaking, ceramics, architecture, animalistic, floral or words made him aware that those meticulous details which never failed to please the eye. Just what he has always felt.

On his work of art, Hamza has devised numerous writings. Inspired by the art of calligraphy, profusely used in the Middle East, Hamza recognized that the Arab world has fed his imagination with more possibilities. It is said that calligraphy is to a game purely esthetic. An image is a word. Hence Hamza has found at last a better way of communicating with brushes, his messages. In old illustrations, despite rules, there were limited restrictions. A style can be ornamented, entwined. Calligraphy has been celebrating beauty and rhythm. Hamza has taken from those masters of school of though into his latest work of art. Long narrow lines in black, filled with Arabic characters. Cursive or jagged styles, Hamza had a wide panel. Letters are treated like human: lying, asleep, kneeling or upright. Hamza did not neglect the modest the point, found several times into his work of art. A key role in the art of writing, this modest dot has been a measure among the establishment of the rules. ? In other works of art, his letters are spinning, always upwards, towards the sky.

Hamza also appreciated the way of living of the people around him. A sky always blue, a quiet sea and soft sand on a gentle land inspired him into working with a new material not a canvass but glass which demands more efforts in inscribing those shapes dear to him. His paintings started to be more luxurious, not in the pretence of wealth, but to transmit those subtle colors laid before his eyes when the sun rise or just before it sets.

If not depicting words in celestial dimension, Hamza has created elongated shapes. Surrounded by a hard black frame, his gold, black, tarracota, hues of blues and green, these human forms seem to be coming from the desert at dusk. His women, men are shaped like those in the Tassili frescoes. In this composition, they have a role. They do not need to be in hurry, life is worthier to pass by. Each does not resemble the other, although they are coming from the same planet, a noble one, protected by writings. Documented past? Modern present ? Is Hamza conveying us something?

Looking back into history, were they not among the first people who went along North Africa to Spain? Not afraid to travel crossing thousands miles, without fearing the unknown? Has Hamza found some similarity in his move? If the Orientalists discovered a mine of inspiration and colors, Hamza has. With him, the magic of the Orient is kept alive.

That is Hamza I met ten years ago and rediscovered.
Fadela Bird
Art critic

 

Resize of hb126 Resize of hb129 Resize of hb139.jpgk Resize of hb141 Resize of IMG_7844 Resize of IMG_7847 Resize of IMG_7854 Resize of IMG_7857 Resize of IMG_7858