Achraf Touloub

Achraf Touloub’s paintings, drawings, sculptures and video works are based on the intuition that the conventional binary opposition between tradition and the modern mind is, in fact, a movement of convergence. They research the complicity between the technological society and the symbolic power of tradition; both redefining the invisible areas of our time. Achraf Touloub, born in Casablanca in 1986, lives and works in Paris. Their work has been part of several exhibitions at the 57th Venice Biennale; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

Location: Tallinn
Achraf Touloub Gare du Nord 2017 Ink and gouache on paper 110 x 170 cm Courtesy the artist

I hold a belief in paradox, in sensitive experiences and in the existence of parallel dimensions, one of which is ruled by forms.

In my practice, I am interested by the deep-set links that are appearing between tradition, communication technologies and their representations. I work on modalities of perception in the context of ‘hyper-transparency’, a result of image saturation via the media, the Internet and the omnipresence of multiple interfaces. 
I try to grasp this reality in my work by following a “pictorial” route, one that, I hope, lies far from the fields of discourse, concrete evidence and communication channels. I see representation as a starting point from which to create sensitive experiences. For this, I have increasingly more and more faith in the non-visible part of an image.


We are all currently undergoing a crisis of representation, whether it be a political, spiritual or aesthetic one. In my view, this current context that we find ourselves in is a consequence of capital’s proliferation and extension into every part of our own realities, and the manner in which its dematerialized form has given a new definition to the words ‘intimacy’, ‘feeling’ and ‘perception’.


My work for the Baltic Triennial 13 is centred around the idea that approaching reality will no longer emanate from our minds, but will perhaps be borne more through deep and thin moments of loss, something between reflex and intuition, where our common memory can appear in an instant. So I develop pictorial representations around this intuition of « a still being » in a time of confusing simplifications. I try to essentialize in these new drawings, the breath and symbolic power of traditional representations, resulting in the development of a specific pattern of lines.


These specific lines are a flux; a flux containing symbolic power that must re-appear when language starts to lose its substance.


This flux converted into lines is a way to develop a state of in-betweenness, using a light and subtle texture. This state then allows the ensuing representations to resist the eye, forcing the viewer to confront some thing that must be perceived rather than just seen.


The image become an entity, not just something to see but an alterity to our bodies, a physical presence that pushes us into a state of active engagement.


I want these drawings to be more than things to look at. I imagine them as functional materials that can regulate and even increase viewers’ perceptual capacities in a given space, allowing them to develop a more intuitive and visceral way of dealing with representation. A state of being in which a consciousness of the multiple layers of what we call reality can spread.


Something that lies at the opposite end of the spectrum from the term ‘communication’.
 A representation that exists between texture, feelings and arbitrariness.


Achraf Touloub