chick peas, plant, resine epoxy
120 x 45 x 30 cm
edition of 3 + 2 AP
Jannah, means both «paradise» and «garden» in Arabic.
Its totemic presence embodies a sort of legendary ancestral plant, or an oasis personified. The oasis is a place of refuge, a symbol of luxuriance, but it also represents a certain exoticism fantasised by the Western imagination.
Likewise, with its raw materials and its resemblance to a ritual mask, Jannah grapples with a stereotyped aesthetic derived from the colonial construction of «African art». The nonsense of imposing such a concept on an entire continent is among the absurdities that Mehdi-Georges Lahlou seeks to expose.
The work also reflects a number of other themes dear to the artist, such as the purely classical form of the bust, the use of cooking ingredients with strong connotations, here represented by the chickpeas, and of course the self- portrait.
Self-portraits are central in Lahlou’s work. Their use reminds us that his work reflects a very intimate and personal quest, and that the construction of identity begins with the self and the body.