Edmond Amran El Maleh, Yamouin the exhibition catalog “Yamou”, Almanar Gallery, September 1993.
To look at the painting, one should follow the advice of Paul Klee: take a chair, let the eye follow here and there the path traced by the artist in the field of the painting … to look first of all, to look physically, to touch with the eye. Silence! Silence is a must, the absence of interferenceIf one wishes to speak, to say a few words to eventually guide the gaze that touches, it must be done in a low voice, very low, a confidential suggestion. To suggest an entry where one would absentmindedly have run up against a blind wall. We cannot, without gross distortion, impose a linear path to the career of Abderrahim Yamou, or proceed to a division into periods, thus giving to the whole a reductive explanation. Each painting is a beginning, a reminiscence, a destruction, an announcement of a future. Where the exit is, the escape from the frame, from the uncertain edges of the canvas, where, prospecting in the dark, the opening can be found, the entrance into the underground thickness of the artistic work of creation. There is a constant in Abderrahim Yamou, one may venture to affirm, a constant that is the very nature of his desire to paint, which is acute sensitivity, his carnal attachment to matter, to the richness of its expressive potentialities. Sand which is not a trick, sand in all its mineral density, living, breathing, palpable, radiating from the hand to the whole body, matrix of new sensations, ignored, and in a completely different register, but able to speak, wood, sheet metal, recovered scrap. The choice is not arbitrary, indifferent, it is this gap through which the gaze may be able to slip. Violently rejecting any academicism, in any form whatsoever, Abderrahim did not trigger in his brain an intellectual storm. The rupture, the challenge to do otherwise come from the depths, a disruption of organic order, sand precisely. “We must begin to feel art as an organic movement.” (John Pougny) Hence among his early work, these large paintings, landscape of red soil, sand embedded on the surface of wood or old salvaged plates, landscapes of flame through which run the nebulae of night and darkness. I saw Abderrahim work on these “canvases”, I saw him almost leaping, shredding, cutting with a metal point this whole subsided area, now inert : lines, grooves, straight lines, curves, horizontal, vertical, emerging body of a letter of the Arabic alphabet. I saw him tense in the anxious search for balance in the composition of the painting’s elements, this extreme effort toward a great accomplishment.
The paintings, the size and weight of which unfortunately prevent them from being presented here, have an inaugural value, because they reveal an artist in the full sense of the term, because they convey everything that is to be seen of a fertile and creative energy for the future. None of this failed when Abderrahim began to work on canvas. A decision that is not only practical, the canvas being easy to transport. A transition without a marked rupture, Abderrahim fears confinement, repetition to the limit of the same technique; he seeks, then, to broaden his horizons, dominated by the desire to explore new possibilities of writing. The transition to the canvas is a new fragile, delicate trade, with the artificiality of representation, a wager on the power of color above all, steps leading to the painting returned to itself. More freedom then asserts itself in this last and very recent work, the line is no longer a wound of violence against and on the rigid support, but graphics in expansion, taking various forms, animating in a dialogue with color a new dynamic. The relatively static calm of the first large paintings now gives way in these recent ones to central eruptions, the limits of the canvas opening like windows, the view gaining mobility, expressive possibilities, new shades moderate the red density, forms and mass values ensure an increasingly prominent place. Whether he lets the material to speak for itself, knowing how to appeal to what it contains in terms of poetry, of aesthetic emotion, or now, thanks to that other materiality, the visual language of color, Abderrahim expresses again and again that authenticity which is defined in relation to himself, while so many artists, changing their ways or styles, often lose in the skill their own personality. Let him sign and persist for our greatest pleasure, for a wait that follows its course and already prepares to welcome new strong and beautiful works.