x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Life Lessons: The Algerian artist Rachid Koraichi shares his wisdom

Rachid Koraïchi is known for his multimedia sculptural installations. His exhibition is at the Abu Dhabi Art Festival until April 4.

Rachid Koraïchi. Courtesy photo
Rachid Koraïchi. Courtesy photo

1. Be grateful for your heritage. I can trace my ancestors back to before they left Mecca in the seventh century to arrive in Algeria. I respect those wonderful, gifted men; everything I am today comes from them. The truth is we all share a common ancestry.

2. Respect the environment. Those who live in the desert have an intimate understanding of the complexities of life on the edge. Experts at maintaining life in the most inhospitable of places, they study the interplay of sunlight and shadow, realise the critical importance of water, and know that life prospers only in tightly interconnected communities sharing essential resources wisely.

3. Always show tolerance. My country, Algeria, has a history stretching back thousands of years and has seen many peoples and civilisations come and go: Phoenicians, Romans, Ottoman Turks and Europeans. Indeed, Arab saints, Jewish mystics and Christian holy men and women all came from this fertile place. Such diversity can only be considered a great richness. My Sufi tradition holds that diversity and freedom of expression are fruits of tolerance and co-existence.

4. Embody a generous spirit. I am always amazed when I see the work of other artists - those ancient artists far back in time or the latest contemporary artists. We have all received this amazing gift - to be able to traverse this life astonished by what we encounter. An artist feels the need to communicate and pass some of that amazement on to others. To be an artist is to practise a kind of generosity.

5. Live life, don't just observe it. In my work I often use the rose as an emblem of exquisite beauty - its colour, its form and its delightful scent. Yet it's so fragile - it fades so quickly and is gone. The rose's beauty reminds me of the ephemerality of our own life on this planet - we've hardly had time to begin to experience it before it's gone. I always stop to look at and savour the scent of flowers. It's a practice to remind myself to live this ephemeral life to the fullest extent that I can.