October Gallery presents Celestial Blue, a solo exhibition of new works by the renowned artist Rachid Koraïchi. Born in the Aurès mountains of Algeria, Koraïchi’s creative explorations have employed an impressive range of media, which include paintings on canvas, paper and silk, bronze, wood and steel sculptures, ceramics and textiles. Koraïchi’s abiding fascination with signs of all kinds is the unwavering constant informing his conscious and finely detailed work. Beginning from the intricate tracery of Arabic writing – often in reverse or mirror script – Koraïchi deploys symbols, numbers and ciphers drawn from a variety of languages and cultural traditions. Whether the source be numerological insights transmitted from times long past or fluid ideogrammatic glyphs of his own inspiration, Koraïchi organises these multi-layered embroideries of signs into moving statements that interpret afresh the world that surrounds us all.
In accordance with Koraïchi’s predilection for the magical number 7 – considered significant in all the major traditions – Celestial Blue will celebrate the artist’s 77th year. This exhibition will include canvas works interspersed with statuesque steel sculptures, in his characteristically figurative forms. The works on canvas are inspired by the nasibs that the 12th century Sufi mystic and writer, Ibn ‘Arabi, set down in his book of love poems, The Interpreter of Desires (1215). Each large, square canvas present an original design produced in white on an indigo blue ground that improvises upon one of the original poems. Rather than being a direct translation, each work becomes a sustained reflection on the profundity of Ibn ‘Arabi’s original vision, offering a visual correlative to the ideas expressed in a modified, entirely contemporary form.
This outpouring of hand-painted ornamental forms allows Koraïchi to overlay modern concerns and commentary on the work of the Sufi mystic writer. Since no religious faith actively promotes genocide or the massacre of innocents, the ongoing atrocities in the Middle East today cannot be consciously condoned. For both Ibn ‘Arabi and Koraïchi, it seems self-evident that the so-called ‘Holy Land’ ought never be polluted by such outrages. Although originally from Andalucia, in Spain, Ibn ‘Arabi journeyed around the Middle East throughout his lifetime, eventually choosing to settle in Damascus as a revered master of the Sufi path. His writings transmit the unequivocal message of love for all others, without exception, as being the distinctive mark of evolved human beings. In the early 13th century, Ibn ‘Arabi wrote, ‘I practice the religion of love, wherever its camels turn their faces. / This is my religion and my faith.’
Celestial Blue continues Koraïchi’s unique exploration of the spiritual path, and its fundamental message of Tolerance for all. His art reveals how ancient practices still have relevance today.
Press release from October Gallery
Image: Rachid Koraïchi. Les ailes bleues des Anges. 2022. Acrylic on canvas. 150 x 150 cm. Photography © Oak Taylor Smith. Image courtesy of October Gallery and Factum Arte. © Rachid Koraïchi and Factum Arte.