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The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End

September 30, 2008–April 5, 2009

Rachid Koraïchi (Algerian, b. 1947)

Blue, a supraterrestrial color, is the path of the infinite. It expresses detachment from the values of the world.

—Rachid Koraïchi

Born in Algeria, based in Paris, and traveling continually to Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt, Rachid Koraïchi takes on ambitious artistic endeavors that are catalysts for journeys of discovery. These pilgrimages, punctuated by multimedia installations, retrace the paths taken by venerated Sufi mystics. Trained at Algeria's École des Beaux-Arts, the Institut d'Urbanisme de l'Académie de Paris, and both the École des Beaux-Arts and École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, central to Koraïchi's identity is his heritage of Sufism that informs his emphasis on the inseparability of aesthetics and metaphysics. Both the process of developing these demanding meditations and experiencing them may be likened to the tariqa, or way, of Sufi mysticism through which one perpetually strives to deepen understanding in the quest for grace.

Through making manifest the writings of exemplary mystics, Koraïchi seeks to capture an idea of transcendence. He never literally transcribes sacred texts but rather expressively translates them into his own personal script that combines the written word in Islamic calligraphy, characters that originate in pre-Islamic Berber and Tuareg tradition, magical squares, and talismanic numbers. Despite his focus on the power of esoteric signs, Koraïchi's works are invariably multifaceted, comprising different kinds of media in combination. These projects seek to highlight the cosmopolitan character of the Mediterranean world going back to the medieval period through reviving the legacy of specialized artisans. He executes these in collaboration with individuals trained in a region's classical traditions, such as weavers and dyers who produce elements of his monumental, often site-specific, creations under his supervision. Koraïchi's expansive vision reignites complex intercultural networks, resides in major cultural institutions, and has been recognized in international exhibitions including both the 47th and 49th Venice Biennales.