“Koraïchi explores our connections to the earth as source of life” October Gallery
Tucked away behind the hustle and bustle of Holborn is the long established October Gallery, whose current exhibition of new works by Algerian artist Rachid Koraïchi, will throw you deep into a history rich with the ancient symbols of the unknown.
Entitled Les osties bleues, this collection consists of white and blue canvases overlain with black inscriptions to emphasise the graphic power of the artist’s inscriptions. At a first glance the symbols look Islamic but a deeper investigation reveals how Rachid deconstructs and abstracts civilisations oldest languages to express a personal visual vocabulary of his own.
The title itself is a reference to sacramental bread used as part of Christian worship.
The discussion was continually disrupted because Gerard Houghton, Head of Special Projects and host of the talk, had to translate what Rachid was saying. This created a disjointed duality where certain members of the audience would laugh first at what Rachid would say in French, and the rest of us would laugh afterwards when Gerard would translate it to English.
Similary, Rachid’s work creates different time narratives of individual interpretation all
within the same space. Some would skim over his drawings whilst others would stop and
ponder upon a certain inscription. For him “art represents an ancient pathway into the unknown. Signs and symbols from civilisation’s oldest languages are deconstructed and abstracted in the artist’s work to elaborate a personal visual vocabulary.”
Ultimately, what strikes me is just how much Rachid Koraïchi’s life is one big signifier for
his art. Growing up in Algeria, his father was labelled a terrorist and he was forced to study catechism in a monastery that accommodated Christians, Jews and Muslims. His exposure to the religious, social and political history of his country fuel his fascination with the metaphysical significance of the number seven – in the Islamic worship of Allah for example.
The artist actively explores the ethereal qualities of blue. He describes the colour as: ‘always connected to the heavens, (it) is the colour of invisibility,…a strange notion – perhaps – but if you look at the sea – it’s blue! Yet, cup a handful of sea-water in your hand and the blue is gone!’
Eternity is the Absence of Time by October Gallery (2011) Les osties bleues encourages us to dig deeper beyond the face value or understanding of the objects around us and the art we consume. Rachid has used his life studies to master a complex and coded language that once grasped can unlock a whole new world of knowledge and interpretation. Like the closer inspection of the water, there’s an emphasis about seeing the true nature of things with an investigative and contextual eye.
In 2011, Koraïchi was the winner of the prestigious Jameel Prize at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, exhibiting seven large-scale banners from The Invisible Masters series. Main image credit: Rachid Koraïchi Les maîtres du temps 5, 2018
Rachid Koraïchi: Les Maîtres du Temps (Masters of Time) is at the October Gallery until 28th July for more details