Maya Lebbad is an emerging artist from North Africa, born in Algiers in 1972. Her work is steeped in fable and fantasy, an aesthetic which she believes evolved out of a need to escape the turbulence of the civil war in Algeria. After obtaining a formal education in art and completing several group and solo exhibitions, Maya is now at the Sorbonne in Paris, completing her PhD in Art.
In her early years, she attended a Fine Art high school and studied interior design, while at the same time discovering of the artwork of Denis Martinez and Azwaw Mammeri, which strongly inspired her early works.
After obtaining her diploma in design, she taught art in secondary school and worked at an architectural firm while simultaneously participating in collective art exhibitions and solo shows. Always pursuing artistic endeavours, Maya has designed furniture and has worked in a gallery as an assistant manager. She recently returned to Paris to obtain her doctorate in Art and Archeology of Art.
“If my paintings bring a touch of happiness to the viewer, that’s what I want.” Maya expresses this wish with modesty and a generous smile. Humility and passion cohabit in this artist who refuses to take herself too seriously, and who, in creating art, gives precedence to having fun.
A common thread woven into her work is her Algerian architectural heritage – Arab-Andalusian form, merged with the more minimalist but equally sophisticated, M’Zab for example – it is a kind of playful obsession. Through her work, Maya wants to offer to the eye the opportunity to rejoice; to free the imagination and awaken the sleeping child in each of us.
“I was born in the seventies in Algiers, a town of amazing architecture and light, which strongly nourished my work. In adolescence, drawing and writing stories occupied most of my time, which led me to enrol in art school in 1992. I chose interior design due to my interest in the integration of quasi-monochromic light in open, purified spaces.
Outside the walls of my school, the war raged on, and was always in the daily news, pushing me to escape from it into art, developing a painting style which one could describes as naive. The colours, the dreaminess, the theme of solitary escape far from the constraints of reality and technical architecture became the core of my drawings.
From ‘Houses of M’zab’, to the hollow of an undulating desert, to the Qasbah with closed doors encased in coloured earthenware squares, suspended in hidden gardens kept by the moon of the East – I used the reference symbols from my writing in my first series of paintings, which was dedicated to fantasy architecture.
Then I moved to Paris to study at the Sorbonne under the direction of Marianne Barrucand. I prepared a thesis centred on the doors of 16th century Algerian palaces, an aesthetic inventory which cemented the relationship between my art and architecture and elevated my pictorial work by adding realistic details.
Today, this work is still evolving, as with each series of drawings I incorporate the principle of narration – the story or tale that underpins the work – with the colour and lines of the drawing. The topic of ‘Malîka’ (or women’s garden) restores my dream of a lush and untouched paradise.”
- 1995 | Fondations Asselah, Palais de la Culture, Algiers
- 1997 | Galerie Samsom, Algiers
- 1999 | EL IKHTILEF, Ligue des écrivains de la différence, Algiers
- 2000 | NOMAD, Exposition itinérante, Belgium
- 2000 | Women expression, El Aurassi, Algiers
- 2000 | LE VOYAGE IMMOBILE, Palais de la culture, Algiers
- 2001 | Salon National des Arts Plastiques, , Palais de la culture, Constantine
- 2002 | TERRITO-ART, Taghit
- 1998 | Anjuli, El Wassiti, Algiers
- 1999 | Fragments, Librairie du tiers monde, Algiers
- 2000 | Installation, Palais de la culture, Algiers
- 2002 | Hunaïm, Galerie Thevest, Algiers
PUBLICATIONS & PRESS
- ” .. les tableaux de Maya se lisent comme des visions successives de façades d’architectures traditionnelles, de lourdes portes de bois, de seuils suspendus… Un conte merveilleux, un sentiment de suspension intérieure sentimental et poétique…”–Article El Watan, 21/07/1998, page 13, Réel-rêvé, le voyage… by Abdelrahmane Djelfaoui.
- “… Une jeunesse et une créativité portées par le besoin impérieux de renouvellement, d’expression aérée et libéré…”–Article El Watan, été 1998, page 11, Quatre peintres en voyage by A; Djelafaoui,
- “… des oeuvres sur le patrimoine architectural, des couleurs, des rêves et des émotions…”–Article El Moudjahid, 31/08/2000, Page 10, Talents et création, F.B
- “…Des maisons palais, des escaliers suspendus, des portes ouvertes sur un ailleurs…L’on ne saurait qu’être gré à l’artiste pour ce périple…”–Article Le Matin, 02/09/2000 by S. Abdelmoumene