Ghizlane Sahli, born in 1973 in Meknes (Morocco), currently lives and works in Marrakech (Morocco). After studying architecture in Paris, she returned to Morocco and opened an embroidery workshop with local artisans, before finally deciding to devote herself exclusively to making art.
Her works arise from the encounter between a passion for embroidery, a background in architecture and a deep interest in environmental sustainability issues.
The sculptures, made of recycled plastic and silk threads, reproduce the shapes of nature and the organic nature of the human body. The repetition of the shapes and the repetition of the creative gesture that leads to the birth of the art work, assume, in its artistic practice, a substantial role, the meaning of a meditative and poetic act, the lifeblood of the work itself.
“M.O.M.014”, 2020, silk threads on plastic and metal, 117x200x38 cm, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery, copyright Ghizlane Sahli
Ghizlane, your artistic path has not been “linear”, in fact you started with a degree in architecture, then you opened a studio of embroidery and finally you chose to devote yourself entirely to art. Can you tell us about it?
I first studied architecture in Paris. And then I had my children (I have four), and I went back to live in Morocco. I have always been in love with textiles and embroideries. So I decided to open a studio of embroideries and I created a brand of couture kids clothing, all totally hand made. I spent seven years there with the artisans in the studio. It was an amazing experience. But I never felt in my place. I didn’t wanted to be a stylist. However this period have been an incredible training for me, I learnt so much.
Been an artist have always been the most beautiful thing in the world for me. It was so big that I didn’t even allowed myself of dreaming about it. But life took me and put me in that amazing world. I really felt connected with myself and I was finally were I have always belong!
“M.O.M. 004”, 2020, silk threads on plastic and metal, 126×38 cm, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery, copyright Ghizlane Sahli
“M.O.M. 007”, 2020, silk threads on plastic and metal, 103x100x27 cm, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery,
copyright Ghizlane Sahli
The culture, traditions and textile craft practices of Morocco, what role have they played in your training and artistic growth?
Morocco is a very rich country concerning textiles. Every celebration in life has a special costume: The birth, the wedding, the circumcision, the Ramadan, all the religious festivals… Every women and every men in every social classes, have a new costume tailor made for each celebration.
The techniques used by the artisans have been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. They are multiples and very sophisticated. Most of the times each artisans specialize in one technique and keeps doing it for the rest of his life.
During my period in the embroideries studio, I have tried to learn many of these expertises and now I use all these ancestral practices to realize my very contemporary ideas.
Copyright Ghizlane Sahli,
Can you talk about your most recent series “La Mer(e), Origine du Monde,” which consists of drawings, sculptures, and textile bas-reliefs? What is it inspired by?
La Mer(e), Origine du Monde… is a work inspired by the Sea, but also by the Woman. I am very interested by the human body, and particularly by the woman body and its intimacy. I always use the metaphor of nature to express my ideas.
We all come from the sea.
“M.O.M. 002”, 2020, 90x110x25cm, silk threads on plastic and metal, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery, copyright Ghizlane Sahli
“M.O.M. 003”, 2020, 85x116x26 cm, silk threads on plastic and metal, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery, copyright Ghizlane Sahli
“M.O.M. 008”, 2020, 110x152x32 cm, silk threads on plastic and metal, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery, copyright Ghizlane Sahli
“M.O.M. 013”, 2020, 118x125x30 cm, silk threads on plastic and metal, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery, copyright Ghizlane Sahli
Many of your works are made up of ” alveolar” forms that are repeated within the work even if with different dimensions. Can we say that repetition, in your artistic practice, takes on the meaning almost of a ritual, metaphysical and sublimating gesture?
Many of your works are made up of “honeycomb” shapes that are repeated within the work, even if with different dimensions. We can say that repetition, in your artistic practice does it almost take the form of the sublimation of a ritual, metaphysical gesture?
The alveole is the unit of my work. It is made of plastic waste (Bottles, caps, tubes, CDs…) totally covered by silk. It’s the atom that compose the matter. It is the cell whose accumulation and proliferation creates the work.
The repetition of these alveoles make the artwork grows in a very organic way. It is almost alive.
The repetition is not only present in the composition of the work, but it is also present in the hole process of the creation of the work. The differents steps of this process collecting, washing, cutting,embroidering… of making the artworks are all very meditative because of the repetition.
The same gesture is repeated many, many times with no intellectuallity. It becomes like a transe.
There is also another very spiritual purpose in this work.
The garbage is very universal. Every society produces waste. This waste is the reject from the society.
When I use it, I always have that feeling that each object had a soul and a previous life and when I transmute it using the silk, each alveoles bring it’s own energy, and the accumulation of all the differents energy becomes the artwork with its own emotion and own energy.
“M.O.M. 005”, 2020, silk threads on plastic and metal 107x130x34cm, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery, copyright Ghizlane SahlieSoieSurPlastiqueEtMetal_107x130x34cm_2020
“M.O.M. 009”, 2020, silk threads on plastic and metal, 120×30 cm, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery, copyright Ghizlane Sahli
“M.O.M. 010”, 2020, silk threads on plastic and metal, 110x103x30 cm, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery, copyright Ghizlane Sahli
“M.O.M. 001”, 2020, silk threads on plastic and metal, 60x25x20 cm, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery, copyright Ghizlane Sahli
Create your own sculptures using discarded plastic bottles covered with precious silk threads of different colors. A combination of materials that are distant in terms of origin, value, appearance and function. Can you explain the choice of this encounter “between opposites”?
I love the confrontation of these two materials: The silk, a naturel and very noble product and the plastic waste, made by man and thrown by him after been used.
Covering that waste by the silk, it’s like giving it a hope, without changing it’s real nature, since the structure of the created object is still the plastic.
“Histoires de Tripes V05”, 2019, 85 x 40 x 40 cm, mixed techniques, photo cr. Victoria and Albert Museum, copyright Ghizlane Sahli,
“Histoires de Tripes 026”, 2018, 183 x 120 x 36 cm, mixed techniques, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery, copyright Ghizlane Sahli,
In your opinion, what is the relationship between art and craftsmanship? What role does craftsmanship play in your artistic practice?
In my case, I am completely fascinated by the incredible and so meticulous work of the artisans. The gesture is always very precise and very repetitive. Not to talk about the talent, It takes a lot of patience to be able to do that for hours, for days , for years.
I tried to use those ancestral practices to create my very contemporary ideas. I play with material, volumes and scales.
It’s not easy to make an artisan that is very specialized and is used to make the same gesture since ever, do something new. I have a very privilege relation with Najat, the artisan that works with me since I had my embroideries studio. Our collaboration is based on thrust, love and respect. She is always very excited when we try something new, and she always understand my expectations. I am really grateful and I feel blessed to have her in my life.
“M.O.M. installation detail”, 2020, silk threads on plastic and metal, copyright Ghizlane Sahli
“M.O.M. installation”, 2020, silk threads on plastic and metal, copyright Ghizlane Sahli
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I have just spent three month residency in Paris at la Cité des arts. I started a new work that is very important for me. It’s several drawings, paintings, and embroideries on paper about the Woman. It is composed by 4 panels of 28 papers, all of the same sizes. 28 been the cycle of the woman and 4 been the seasons of her life. One the panel is composed by photos of my own body that I’m going to embroider. It is an important step for me to introduce my own body in my work.
I also have exhibitions planned on 2021. I have a show running till end of February in Treviso at Fondazione Benetton.
I am also participating in Afrique 2020. It’s a big event in all France showing African artists. It was supposed to take part in 2020 but have been postponed to 2021. I have 3 exhibitions in that context, one in Brest, one in Rouen and one in Paris. I also have group shows with my galleries, in Milano, in Marrakech, and in Frankfurt.
“M.O.M.”, 2020, silk threads on plastic and metal 130x105x85cm, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery, copyright Ghizlane Sahli
“M.O.M.”, 2020, silk threads on plastic and metal 50x30x15 cm, photo cr. David Bloch Gallery, copyright Ghizlane Sahli