Sunday, 19 July 2009

Mona Masnet | Tunisia/France

Artist | Mona

Unique Technique and the Importance of Water

Mona draws on the strengths of the female role in the North African Arabic world – that of the control and the distribution of water – through this excessive use of water in her work she makes her artistic statement.

She is a bi-racial, multicultural, International female artist and a true “Afropolitan”. She was raised in the Medina in Tunis in the late 1960’s and 1970’s; at that time the Medina was a place which harboured the cultured and the aristocratic; today the Medina is filled with cheap clothes from Dubai and has become a marketplace. Like all major cities across the globe commerce is overriding culture.

In the late 1950’s her mother, Madame Abesse fell in love with a Sudanese man, Monsieur Douf. This relationship was frowned upon and she was ex-communicated from her aristocratic family. The newly married Madame Douf bravely chose love over social responsibility and thankfully gave birth to Mona.

Mona was born of mixed race and as she grew up so she began to find living in Tunisia increasingly difficult. Tunisian society places such importance on the family name and one is judged by that name; it denotes power, influence throughout the country. Although she experienced a deprived childhood these harsh early years would later bring there own reward. Gradually she realised that her destiny lay outside in Europe, France.

Mona studied Industrial Design in 1996 at Le Beaux Arts, Tunis and moved into painting in 1998. Her work was recognised as new talent and she was given a place at the Cite International des Arts in Paris in 2003/2004. Before leaving Tunisia she forged a close relationship with Nejib Belkhodja, who regarded her as part of a new wave of emerging Tunisian talent.

In France in 2005, Mona took an atelier/studio in the central Parisian district of Les Halles, where she met her husband, Stéphane Masnet. She is now a registered French artist and the couple are living in the edgy outskirts of Paris.

What is ironic is that the same prejudices and chauvinistic attitudes have followed her into her new world but her work speaks volumes.

© Joe Pollitt, 2009

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