Interview with Nasser Al Aswadi

Interview with Nasser Al Aswadi


A combination of history and the sacred, the work of Nasser Al Aswadi stands out, unique. Encounter with the Yemeni artist.



Nasser Al Aswadi tell us about yourself …


Since childhood I wanted to become an artist. But in Yemen no art schools were available, so I studied architecture, while continuing to paint. In 2001, for the first time, I exhibited my works at the French Cultural Center in Sanaa ten years after I started painting.. In 2004  I traveled to Tours in France to study the French language for four months, that were a turning point in my life. I continued to study and develop my work through internships, moving between Yemen and France. Since 2008 my time is divided between Marseille and Sanaa but a year ago I settled in Marseille because of the war.



You cut fragments of scrolls and parchments, into small pieces transforming the letters and words into visual signs stratified to create palimpsests. The colorless forms, circles or rectangles, take us to a magical world reminiscent of sacred geometry. Why this medium?


I believe that the medium is complimentary to the idea that the artist is trying to express. In fact there must be a dialectical relationship between the medium and the artist’s vision; between his vision and his skills. The medium itself isn’t enough. Personally I try all kinds of material. Also if you look at my work you see that black and white predominate most of my work. This goes back to the fact that I was raised in a home where there were no colors.



You said: I borrow from each ancient scroll hidden in every corner of Yemen and take them out to light. Are you trying to express certain mystical inspiration?


Yemen is one of the richest countries in the Arab world with manuscripts and scrolls, you can find them nearly in every house. These and the mythical stories told by old women, the designs and calligraphy on the walls of mosques, the decoration of the domes, all this is imprinted in my mind since childhood.

The artist is part of his surroundings and is affected by it.



Is your unique style the mirror of your Yemeni and Arab roots? Or is it the outcome of long studies in art in general and hard personal work?


I think both are true. Each compliments the other. There is a great strong bond between my ancestry roots and my creations. It is a privilege to realize how strong its impact is on me. Though it has influenced me in one way or the other, still it is necessary for the artist to be educated and to have a great knowledge in the history of art. Add to it personal work and continuous research. My artistic age is not long, but with continuous work and research I believe I can achieve something.



Where do you feel more at ease in Yemen or in France?


I am lucky to be able to live in two completely different countries from many points of view. Each has its own characteristics culturally, socially and ethnically, which makes each country special to me. France gave me what Yemen didn’t and vice versa. Actually I am living constantly in Marseille because of the war in Yemen but my country is in my heart never leaving me.



What do you think of the artistic movement in Yemen and what is your advice to young artists?


The artistic movement in Yemen has witnessed a remarkable development since the sixties. It is important compared to the figurative movements in other Arab countries. But unfortunately the art to develop needs political and economical stability, and general awareness. Nevertheless I am absolutely sure of its bright future, and would like to say to the young Yemeni artists that we are an old civilization and that our  country is very rich in culture and history, so delve in them for inspiration and creativity.



Sign in to your account to get exclusive access to new works, receive personalised experiences and place bids.

Forgot your password?