Hamza Bounoua was born in 1979 in Algeria, in the mind of the artist not only a place of birth or point of departure but that expanse of space where civilizations encountered each other through the centuries, between the Islamic civilization of Spain and the Berber culture of Africa. At an early stage, Bounoua drew his inspiration from the grand Islamic architecture with its delicately interwoven patterns – an almost mathematical harmony – and the rich symphony of earth colors, meeting at the edges of pristine white and cerulean blue. His work is an arena of negotiation between the Islamic and Arab heritage on the one hand, and the contemporary aesthetics of representation through photography, production of the image and time sequences that alter, if not invert, the logical order of architectural syntax.
Defining his artistic practice as a critique – and self-critique – of the reading and practice of tradition, Bounoua’s work opens to the viewer as an intermediate space overflowing with traces from spirituality, materialized in thick organic textures of the brush, resembling at times dance and at times narrative, but constricted by order and harmony, to prevent them from spilling the entire mystical content onto the gaze of the spectator. Thus, the vital energy is channeled through motions and pulsations, orchestrated with geometric precision. On the Plexiglas, space does not appear as an inert vessel but rather as a search for balance in a world inundated by acceleration of images. In his work, there is a place for paucity of detail, careful observation, and ultimately contemplation through primal forms.
A body of work based entirely on calligraphy, defies the technical and narrative conventions of the art form, into a pluriverse of magic, while altogether rational and wholly visible to the uninitiated. The infinity of geometry grows into bodily forms and textures that can be taken in with one stare, and yet demand to be read slowly in order to incorporate the vision of the reading into the work, as an experience of perceptual depth. As a contemporary practitioner, Bounoua does not shy away from his origins, and is embarked on a continuous search for the most elementary symbols and materials to perform his incision into the heart of tradition. The final result is an amalgamation of natural elements with the artist’s distinct culture and identity.
Hamza Bounoua studied at the Fine Art Institute in Algeria, and has drawn inspiration from Islamic, Arab and African art, incorporating in his work the vital impetus of his Berber origins in the Amazigh culture, into a book of art and life that is both unique and readable. His work has been showcased extensively in solo and group exhibitions in Bahrain, Kuwait, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon and Qatar; also in New York, Canada, Bosnia, Brazil and the United Kingdom. Bounoua’s work has been on display at Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art MAMA in Algeria and was the recipient of the 2006 Mohammed AbdelmohsenAl-Kharafi Prize for Modern and Contemporary Arab Art in Kuwait and the Ecume Prize of the French Cultural Group.