Étienne Nasreddine Dinet honored at the Arab World Institute

Étienne Nasreddine Dinet honored at the Arab World Institute

Qatar, Morocco, and the Gulf and Maghreb countries are fighting for it. In France, however, this is the first time since 1930 that a retrospective has been devoted to him. The exhibition at the Institute of the Arab World in Paris opens with his portrait: graying beard, beret and paintbrush between his lips, Étienne Dinet looks at the viewer.

Coming from the Parisian bourgeoisie of the Second Empire, the painter discovered Algeria thanks to one of his friends, and fell in love with the territory, then under French control. Very critical of colonial policy, a “filthy rot” in his words, he did not consider its abolition. To establish him as an anti-colonialist personality would be a mistake: he rather wanted to reform it and eliminate the inequalities he denounced.

Scenes of life and spirituality

Lascivious body, suggestive position and exposed chest, the Bather with jewelry throne with other nudes in the space reserved for ” ambiguity “ of his art. If we can sometimes find features of the fantasized exoticism expressed by the orientalist movement, the works of Étienne Dinet are contextualized by the exhibition, which underlines that “the body of so-called “indigenous” women is an issue of the colonial order and of sexual violence, real and symbolic”.

On other canvases, the bodies of his models bend in a sign of piety, turning towards the ground, the sky. Their faces are adorned with touching expressions, sometimes humble, sometimes grimacing, happy, mischievous, serious, always striking with reality. The scenes are anchored in everyday life, where spirituality filters through the mastery of light and the settings, undoubtedly inspired by the contemplation of Bou-Saada, an oasis at the gates of the Sahara where he settled in 1904.

“This is the year when the entire art world settles in Paris to trainunderlines the curator in charge of the exhibition, Mario Choueiry. He went there. Étienne Dinet will never be a modern painter, he is timeless. »

Conversion and commitments

Bathed in a culture that he has now chosen, the enthusiast illustrates The Romance of Antar, monument of Arabic literature. He learned the language, converted to Islam under the name Nasreddine (“Victory of Faith”), worked for the return of wounded Algerians to the country, and for the respect of the Muslim rituals prescribed for the burials of soldiers during the First World War.

Author of the first biography in French of the prophet of Islam Mohammed, he attended the inauguration of the Grand Mosque of Paris and died the year of his pilgrimage to Mecca, in 1929. His body rests today in Bou -Saada, in the north of Algeria, where a museum is dedicated to him, while some of his works are found on stamps of the homeland which welcomed him.

“Étienne Dinet, Algerian passions”, until June 9, 2024.

Similar Posts