African designs, £9.99
Diameter: 20.000 cm
Room 34: The Islamic world
Khaled Ben Slimane, ceramic plates (tabaq)
AD 1998, Tunisia
'The objects remind me of my faith (Islam) having Arabic writing, beautifully painted in an artful way, showing that religion, art and the human mind can all work as one. I would be interested to see other works by Mr Slimane, to get more sense and understanding of Islam from an artist's point of view.' Mohummed Majarally, of African-Mauritian origin
Khaled Ben Slimane is from the region of Nabeul, known for its established tradition of pottery-making. In the 1970s, after travelling in Asia and Iran, he studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Tunis. Here, his interest in ceramics quickly turned into a life-long passion; he subsequently also studied in Spain and Japan.
These diverse experiences significantly influence the aesthetic of Slimane's work and his philosophical approach. He is a strong believer in the power of heritage and tradition and considers his work to belong firmly within the context of the 'Islamic' pottery of the Middle East and North Africa. He sees it as his role to inject new life into the ceramic traditions from Iran to North Africa that started to stagnate and die in the nineteenth century because of the breakdown of traditional workshops.
Slimane's works are based on four primary colours - symbolizing the elements of earth, fire, air and water - with rough, bold, black brushstrokes formed into delicate spirals. Ceramics are characterized by repeated words, and phrases such as Allah (God), er-Rouh ('the soul'), Huwa ('Him which evokes God') form a kind of rhythmic ideogram. As well as artworks in the form of functional domestic objects (saucers, cups, bowls), Slimane's works include pieces inspired by Islamic funerary architecture and also public sculptures and installations.
R. Issa, Khaled Ben Slimane (Leighton House Museum, 1995)
J. Hudson, Artists and artisans, perspect (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)