01 Feb 2024 - 23 Mar 2024

Let’s Dance!

lilia ben salah


lilia ben salah is pleased to present « Let’s Dance! », Zoulikha Bouabdellah’s second solo show at the gallery, from February 1st – March 23rd, 2024. Zoulikha Bouabdellah (1977, Moscow) is a multimedia artist whose work summons icons and dominant representations, especially those of female and male bodies, confronted with socio-political dynamics. This exhibition unveils a corpus of new paintings characterized by vivid color fields, lines, and frontal images of fragmented bodies and imaginary, symbolic forms. The aesthetics of the fragment is dear to Zoulikha Bouadbellah’s work and refers thus to the shattering of perception and canonical laws of representation. In her compositions, the body is “sublimated, mutilated, tattooed, experienced, desired, undressed, veiled: the body is poetry.” 

Let’s Dance! 

“Sublimated, mutilated, tattooed, experienced, desired, undressed, veiled: the body is poetry. 

You can act upon the body, whether it’s your own or someone else’s, whether it’s alive or dead, buried or lying, in gestation or in decay; it will house the past, present, and future images of intimacy. 

It is a poetic house made of flesh, bone, and blood. This body has private spaces and other secrets, sides facing the courtyard, garden or street, a central body and extensions, vital functions and superficial ones. 

Like a house, it can smell good or bad. 

With the painting “Diane” (2023), I paraphrase Gaston Bachelard by turning the image of the body into the topography of our intimate being. He suggests, I affirm, through the exercise itself: that of making the body an object and subject at the same time. Taking it, twisting it, looking at it again, fixing it… 

Twenty-four palms do not make a man, contrary to what the Ancients claimed, as if everything was a matter of measure. There are many ways to hide a body. In painting, one can choose not to depict it, blend it into the folds of a veil, precisely trap it between the first and the twenty-fourth palm of a hand. 

On the other hand, embracing the cause of the body requires immoderation, shedding rules, and at a minimum, embodying it, living it, feeling it, penetrating it. Art allows you to do this peacefully, without injury or pain. It allows you to make a body live and kill it. 

That is its power. 

Turned, folded, torn. With the series “Jeu de Jambes” (2023), the body no longer adheres to symmetry. It adopts other lines, other outlines. It balances itself outside of prescription. It’s not nudity that I examine, but the terms that define it, caught between freedom and beauty, like house arrest. 

“Amour maternel” and “Soldat” (2023) extend the work I have been doing since 2015 with the cutting and collage series “Envers Endroit.” It is about deconstructing the body, dynamiting it. 

It is a reversal of the history of the role and place of women in the official history of art: they are no longer images of the male gaze; they are genuine consciousness. 

That is why nudity is free, and its definition of beauty can be explained.” 

Zoulikha Bouadbellah, January 2024 

Press release and artist statement from lilia ben salah

Image: Zoulikha Bouadbellah. Jeu de jambe III. 2023. Acrylic and lacquer on canvas. 122 x 94 cm. Photography by Romain Darnaud. Image courtesy of the artist and lilia ben salah