Interview: Emna Daoud
Luca Curci talks with Emna Daoud during FUTURE LANDSCAPES, third appointment of BORDERS ART FAIR 2023, held in Venice, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Emna DAOUD is a Tunisian painter who graduated from the “École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy” and is based in Paris. Her work is exhibited in France, Italy, Spain, Greece and the United States, both in galleries and art fairs and museums. She originates from “Sidi Bou Saïd”, an emblematic village of Tunisian culture’s richness and diversity, where Andalusian, Arab and Berber influences blend harmoniously and continually nourish her painting.
Luca Curci – What are you currently working on?
Emna Daoud – My artistic work finds its essence in the delicate exploration of fruit textures, possessing a unique and intriguing presence. This captivating presence remains elusive, escaping any definition, and it’s precisely this enigma that fascinates and stimulates me deeply. Through painting, I immerse myself in this enigma, scrutinizing the fruit with a look imbued with scientific rigour. My creations take shape as artistic analyses where I question each fruit, seeking the secrets of their composition, to grasp the essence that gives such palpable vitality to their varied textures.
LC – How much has the city/country in which you grew up/born affected your work as an artist?
ED – I was born in Tunisia – where I come from – and I have always been living between France and Tunisia, in environments rich in culture. Most of my childhood was spent in Strasbourg, in Alsace, a region with an exceptional architectural heritage and many artists’ studios such as Solange Chouchana and Myriam Kotrys. Frequenting these artists nourished my passion for Art History and aroused my artistic curiosity. I started to practice painting assiduously at the age of 5. Fueled by this thirst for knowledge from my earliest age, I also have been visiting museums, and galleries and going to cinemas, theaters, libraries… A few years later, I returned to live in Tunisia, in “Sidi Bou Saïd”, an emblematic village of the rich Tunisian cultural diversity. This place embodies the harmony between Andalusian, Arab and Berber influences which continuously nourish my painting. The decorative patterns in the arabesques, local crafts and ceramics illustrate an exceptional cultural heritage that has profoundly shaped my artistic identity. The vibrant and velvety texture of the fruit which is an integral part of my daily life in Tunisia, invites to an unforgettable sensory experience. These elements are omnipresent in my work.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
ED – I am impregnated both by my daily environment in Tunisia and by the history of Occidental painting in the 17th century. My regular stays in Tunisia are moments of immersion and inspiration. Fruit and vegetables full of light, rich in colours and textures, the vivid shades of blue in the village of “Sidi Bou Saïd” where I grew up and the mesmerizing patterns of the arabesques delicately woven on the walls are the source of my wonder and deep inspiration. These sensory experiences flow into my paintings once back in Paris. I am also very touched by the velvety texture of the fruit and the opalescence of the porcelains in the work of Louise Moillon, a 17th-century still-life painter.
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
ED – Choosing my subjects is a meticulous and reasoned process. On large-format canvases I often organize my compositions by juxtaposing a fragment of fruit with a fragment of ceramic, highlighting each other by their contrasting and bright colours on a black background. These elements have a striking presence, and it’s important to me to reassign their importance to these everyday components that are not always perceived at their true value. That’s why I capture the most vibrant part of each subject, like a shimmering pattern on a piece of ceramic or the freshness of the texture inside a fruit.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
ED – When work is completed, I feel a deep satisfaction to have highlighted the presence and the greatness that I perceive in the subjects present in still life and to have given them an imposing dimension. I also feel a particular joy when the public expresses that they feel “small” in front of the fruit because this is precisely the effect I seek. Also, the feeling of wonder towards the subjects I paint is intense. Painting has this unique ability to bring things to life. However, I nourish a constant desire to question my work, to give it new dimensions and renew it.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this exhibition? How did it inspire you?
ED – I greatly appreciate Italy, and I’m truly captivated and inspired by Venetian culture and architecture. The opportunity to exhibit at the beautiful “Palazzo Albrizzi Capello” was simply extraordinary. This historic building is truly imbued with the city’s artistic and cultural history. Presenting my work in such an emblematic place added a magical dimension to the whole experience, seamlessly merging my art with the soul of the surrounding environment. It was a truly unforgettable and inspiring experience.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?
ED – Imagine a world where tropical lands and the promise of an unforgettable sensory experience are evoked by the shimmering reflections of fruit. Ceramics, with its carefully crafted texture, evokes the mysteries of ancient civilizations and the stories etched into every edge. However, the magic lies in the way these tangible elements intertwine with imaginary worlds. The fruit fragments seem to capture fleeting moments frozen in eternity, inviting the spirit to wander through gardens of abundance. At the same time, ceramics, embodying the art of transformation, open horizons where art and reality merge in a visual symphony. It is at this frontier that reality blends with artistic interpretation. Fruit becomes a portal to sensory escapism and ceramics a link between ancient and modern worlds. It is here that the viewer’s imagination is free to dance between here and elsewhere, between the tangible and the intangible, creating a dreamlike landscape where boundaries melt and transform.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
ED – Yes, ITSLIQUID GROUP can in fact offer a precious opportunity to artists. The group organizes various exhibitions, events and initiatives that offer artists platforms to present their work to a wider audience. Participating in ITSLIQUID GROUP activities could be a way for artists to increase their visibility and reach, especially for emerging artists like me who are looking to establish themselves in the art community.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
ED – Absolutely, I truly enjoyed collaborating with ITSLIQUID GROUP. It was a rewarding experience for me. Their platform gave me the chance to present my work to a broader audience in one of Venice’s most emblematic palaces. I also highlight the incredible warmth and friendliness of the exhibition organizers which made the entire process even more enjoyable. I really appreciated their support and dedication and I look forward to continuing to reach opportunities in the future.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
ED – The ITSLIQUID PLATFORM concept is particularly appealing to me as an emerging artist because it gives young artists the opportunity to exhibit in an artistic environment that can often seem exclusive. This openness to giving opportunities to emerging talent helps to broaden the horizons of the art scene, allowing new voices and creative visions to be heard and to connect with a wider audience.