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40 Under 40 Africa

Nidhal Chamekh

28 September 2020

Tunis and Paris

Nidhal Chamekh is best known for his beguilingly spare drawings in pencil and ink, but he also works with photography, video and installation. Chamekh explores the gaps between history and memory and has described his work as operating in the space between ‘the event and the archive’. Series of drawings such as Le battement des ailes (2016–18) are riddles, asking the viewer to make connections between ancient engravings, anatomical drawings, scenes from the artist’s memories and extracts of poems. As such, they represent the fragmentation of African experience under colonialism. More recent series include Nos Visages (2019) – portraits of anonymous French colonial officers, their faces split in two and combined as mutant assemblages.

Born in Dahmani in Tunisia, Chamekh studied at the School of Fine Arts in Tunis and then at the Sorbonne. His work has been included in the International Exhibition at the Venice Biennale and has been shown at the Yinchuan Biennial, the Aichi Triennale, and the Drawing Room in London, among other venues; it is held in public collections including those of the British Museum, the Barjeel Foundation in Sharjah, and the Kadist Art Foundation and Centre National des Arts Plastiques (CNAP) in France.

Drawing (2017) from Le battement des ailes (2016–18), Nidhal Chamekh.

Drawing (2017) from the series Le battement des ailes (2016–18), Nidhal Chamekh. Courtesy the artist

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