Driss Ouadahi lives and works in Dusseldorf, DE


Driss Ouadahi was born a few years after the founding of the National Liberation Front (FLN, 1954), in which his father played a pivotal role. In Ouadahi’s paintings and constructed political imaginaries, he explores the presence of ruins throughout Algeria, especially the unfinished buildings that are so ubiquitous in the country’s contemporary landscape.


Driss Ouadahi, Carcasse (Heimat) [Carcasse (Home)], 2005, oil on canvas, 200 × 240 cm © Driss Ouadahi, photo: Amir Ouadahi


Using abstract architectural forms, the artist’s work alludes to characteristic public housing structures in Algeria. While contemplating his paintings, the viewer is gradually drawn into a mirroring exercise, prompting a reflection on the gaze and surveillance. Webbed patterns allow access to imagined stories and current realities in relation to politics of class, religion, race, and identity. Like architecture, reduced to its most basic forms, the digital cloud that masters all of our data could also be depicted here as an abstract archive, but most importantly as a space of effective surveillance. Imagined as transparent veils, or even fishing nets, these paintings invite us to look at ways in which powerful political entities have engaged in algorithmic governance and world representation.


Driss Ouadahi, Néon [Neon], 2016, oil on canvas, diptych, overall dimensions 200 × 300 cm, each 200 × 150 cm, courtesy Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco © Driss Ouadahi, photo: Martin Wittwer



From a viewer’s standpoint, could we consider Ouadahi’s oeuvre as a depiction of our political, social, and economic margins? If so, to what extent can we shift a singular center to a multiplicity of centers based on each viewer’s perspective and context? The combination of painting and architecture in these works provides us with tools for understanding the depth of the colonial enterprise and its structural manifestations.

Marie Helene Pereira


Where We Are: Hosfelt Gallery at 25 Years, 2021, Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (US)

Under Construction I & II, 2021, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai (AE) (solo)

Revisited Spaces, 2020, Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco (US) (solo)

Class Relations – Phantoms of Perception, 2018, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Hamburg (DE)

Un œil ouvert sur le monde arabe, 2018, Institut du monde arabe, Paris (FR)