By John Owoo
(In Tunis – Tunisia)
An exhibition of paintings by Tunisian artist Mohamed Ben Hédi Chérif inspired by life and ambiances is underway at the the Maison de la Culture Ibn Khaldoun in the Tunisian capital, Tunis.
Born in the Tunisian town of Sfax, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, his works abound with Arabic history and literature while conveying messages of love and hope through paintings that boast of diverse shapes.
A noticeable figure in the Tunisian visual arts scene, his works are rich in verbal poetry,songs and dances alongside a creative spirit and youthful dynamism that has inspired dozens of young artists in Tunisia and beyond.
Employing distorted human figures and abstract forms, Chérif’s work comprise mostly earth colours with bits of blues, yellows and reds that form part of seemingly unending pieces that show a constant sense of movement.
Largely a self-trained painter, he was simply armed with a passion and motivation, which resulted landscapes, sketches, real and imaginary portraits, which he never believed will be on display in galleries.
Chérif’s choice of themes and the interaction of colors / light portray canvases that radiate an intense emotional energy, which keeps viewers glued to his pieces as they try to decipher his messages.
Indeed, some of his works are large scale formats (two metres high) as well are circular canvasses, which are largely considered as symbols of unity and infinity owing to the fact that regular polygons are fully embraced by circles.
His first exhibition was in 2013 when he appeared in a group exhibition in Tunis, which included acclaimed painters and academics. The show attracted dozens of people and immediately placed him in the public eye.