I miss the opening of Tahar M’Guedmini’s “Les syncopes du temp” exhibition. Two days later, the impeccable exhibition space of Galerie Cimaise is empty and quiet. An impressive triptych catches my eye and kicks me in the guts. Why does my pulse quicken?
The large canvases in this exhibition run with a common and, at first, puzzling theme. A man sits alone at a coffee table near a window with curtain. But something happens to throw everything into movement. There are dark, chaotic and instantaneous forces at play in the frame and in the world outside.
Too often, I have been near to explosions. F***k! That was close! Within a second, the organism is caught in fright and flight. Nausea-curl-up-in-a-ball-and-hide. Is this why, standing in Galerie Cimaise, I feel distress and a giddy isolation? Or is it a kind of all-possible-bad-news-arriving-now moment? Has M’Guedmini captured this instinctive reaction on canvas?
Tahar M’Guedmini was born in Tunisia in 1948. He trained in fine arts in Tunis and in Paris. Over forty years, he has exhibited widely in Great Britain, Switzerland and France. He remains domiciled in Djerba, Tunisia. In the paintings on show here, it is unclear who the central figure is or what M’Guedmini might have experienced himself to portray the instantaneous upheaval of his solitaire. Whether or not I like these paintings is immaterial; aesthetic appeal is secondary. Quite simply, they have an extraordinary impact. A strong parallel and almost certain influence is the work of Francis Bacon. No surprise then that one of M’Guedmini’s works is now housed in the British Museum’s section on Modern Art from the Arab World.
Is this dark figure running for cover after the impact? Mourad Ghedira, the mastermind behind this exhibition, gives us some relief from the anxiety of the overbearing canvases by interspacing some beautiful water colour and pastel sketches. Although just as mysterious and hunting around the same theme, they serve to lighten my mood.
Perhaps the best translation of “Les syncopes du temps” would be “When time faints”? This powerful exhibition forces a sober recollection of the occasions when my time fainted.