News from infinity
by Rémi Labrusse
This founding importance of movement, born of the living body’s wondrous dive into its own inner essence, upstream of any intentional consciousness, unrelated to the external world, has never been denied by the artist. You would even be tempted to think this is the supreme reason for her love of painting, in the practice of which Najia imposes physically demanding conditions on herself. By the effort they require, they give the body the primary role: like these oil pigment sticks she used in her large paintings of the late 1990s and early 2000s – the Chaosmos, Gradients, Arborescences, etc. –, which she had to crush onto the unprepared canvas to leave traces, but without breaking the fluid momentum and harmony of the interwoven curves; also, like the large, unwieldy brushes she currently uses to trace her Drapés or her Fleurs, with deep pictorial breaths. And always reappearing is her passion for a plane other than the visible, for a dimension other than form, for this physical embrace l, ahead of any thought and any vision of the world; it is in this embrace that there is access to the infinite, in the most literal, affective and concrete sense of the word. From this undoubtedly stems the artist’s deep understanding, her feeling of communion with the circular almost on-the-spot steps of the Ottoman whirling dervishes, which she transposed into her 2002 series of Danses des derviches. In the same way, and for the same reasons, music appears as a constant in her daily practice, acting in her like an original principle that dismantles the autonomy of the visible: shut in bright white studios to aid her concentration, while in Paris, she lets herself be transported by the music of Bach or other musicians of the absolute, and, while in Essaouira, by the music of the flocks passing by and the wind in the olives.
A mystery remains: the fact that this living body that feels itself in its radical inner essence also feels the need to break the inner circle and, like the diver, surge to the surface, creating visible forms, while all forms, all objects are originally alien to it, in the dark night of the self. Why, at a given moment, does the inner life of the body, instead of remaining not of this world, in the depths of subjectivity, come to the surface, objectivising itself in visual configurations, luminously inscribing itself in the fabric of appearances? And more: why does movement disembody itself – in forms that are intentionally geometrically standard and in a way de-subjectivised: squares, circles, octagons, geometric stars, rhomboids or even flower petals – so many great universals of all visual cultures, in which the idea of a geometrical structure of being is expressed? Why, in other words, does the dizzy power of the unformed, the blind, the spaceless, the undimensioned, the radically singular, in the spontaneity of embodied movement, rub itself so passionately up against its opposite, the standard perfection of the visible, the harmony of fundamental ornaments, the precise elegance of measureable intervals?
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