“I think that the particularity of the residency at philomena+ is in the diversity of the choice of the artists’ profiles with various multidisciplinary practices; from conceptual art to painting, and which poses a specific look on the current world. There is also the will to connect artists who have the same artistic concerns (I speak in this case of Thaer Maarouf and myself) and who come from the same culture, which generates a mutual look on our practices as well as bonds of friendship that link us despite the distance.”
Nabil Saouabi is interested in the effect of imagery on the human psyche in the fluid transition between reality and fiction. He makes use of different sources for his artistic investigation. In the past, he has painted iconic representations of well-known political figures of the Arab World, usually showing them involved in an act of violence. Currently, Nabil Saouabi recreates images from film classics such as “Happiness” from Alexander Ivanovich Medvedkine or “Stalker” from Andrei Tarkovsky, showing tragic fates, characters that are under threat, harassed, and weakened. Through painterly decontextualization, he succeeds in giving that what is seen, aspects of a collective trauma. Nabil Saouabi’s work often addresses the issue of the process of artistic creation. Through the use of mise en scène (staging) and mise en abîme (placing an image within an image), the picture oscillates between illusion and reality, between that which is private and that which is public. The artist himself is the main character, and he is often portrayed with surprised expression, as if caught red-handed.
A visit to his open studio at philomena+ in Vienna provided insights into Nabil Saouabi’s preparatory work for the exhibition “Befindlichkeiten مزاج ” , together with Thaer Maarouf at Parallel Vienna 2019 from 25.9. – 29.9.2019.
Born in 1972 in Jendouba (Tunisia), Nabil Saouabi lives and works in Tunis. In 2013 he received his doctorate in art theory from the Institut Supérieur des Beaux-Arts de Tunis, where he currently teaches and directs the printing workshop. Since his first major solo exhibition “Sleepers Awake” in Tunis in 2013, he has participated in numerous exhibitions in Tunisia and abroad, including biennials such as Dak’art, Beijing and d’Île de France. His works are now held in private collections in Tunisia, France, Germany and the Middle East, as well as in public collections such as the Ministry of Culture in Tunisia.