The Life of a Tunisian Artist
But the coast is the result of a mix of influences, a combination of old and new, with architectural remnants of previous eras blending with the kitsch left over from the height of Tunisian tourism. Occasionally these two totems converge, as in the home of Jellal Ben Abdallah, one of Tunisia’s most famous artists, whom I visited in the suburb of Sidi Bou Said. His house is an effortlessly postmodern assemblage of objets d’art and neoclassicism: Archways from the 17th century have been built into the structure of the house, and column fragments form pedestals for photo frames, lamps and candelabras. The home recalls the putative heyday of Tunis’s old intellectual community, when Bourguiba was in power. In the 1970s, Ben Abdallah told me, he hosted guests like the philosopher Michel Foucault at his house, as well as Aristotle and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
From “Tunisia Through the Eyes of Its Artists and Intellectuals” by Nikal Saval for The New York Times Style Magazine, 2016; Photo by Joakim Eskildsen
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