Zillij

This new body of work draws upon geometric Islamic motifs to create dense and opulent fields of abstraction that both celebrate and challenge the act of seeing.
Based on the 14-sided star, which is elaborated upon and presented in myriad ways, the highly interpretable and richly associative images are built up in layers, resembling landscapes as much explosions, or finally, hanging tapestries that seem to rise up, scintillate and dissolve before one’s eyes. In such a depiction, the religious motifs, which were originally conceived as a response to the Islamic ban on idolatrous depictions, undergo a kind of secularization, which parallels the 21st century secularization of abstraction itself. Born in Morocco, Alaoui’s deployment of this motif represents an attempt to negotiate, at least in part, her religious and cultural heritage by embracing its rich aesthetic complexity through exploring an aesthetic motif that has otherwise remained static and immured within tradition.
Portrayed in a variety of colors, from gold to black, white and blue, the images and the particular components with which they are composed inevitably reflect the incremental, unite-based nature of building up an image or matter itself, as expressed in a dot, pixel, tile, or an atom. The subtle lack of symmetry in what is otherwise a symmetrical tradition seeks to be a source of optical tension, playfully captivating the viewer’s gaze as it runs over the image, remarking and processing geometric inconsistencies, while rewarding it with a sensual and thoroughly textured viewing experience.