Houda Terjuman, a Syrian Swiss visual artist, was born and raised in Morocco. Influenced by her family and their moving stories; her artwork provides a unique opportunity to analyse and reflect. Her interaction with art began from a very young age. She painted and drew all the time. In fact, she knew that she wanted to become an artist when she felt an enormous flow of happiness after drawing Bambi. Growing up, Mrs. Houda studied in a French school and for university, she studied Business in Switzerland. Too soon, she abandoned her early career in business to work as a full-time artist. Influenced by both Syria and Switzerland, too different places provided a contrast and depth to her craft.
The Beginning of a Self-Taught Artist
Her parents were very supportive of her choice. In the early 2000s, she started sending endless emails with her portfolio to many galleries, in Morocco and in Europe. But Mrs. Houda noticed that galleries always asked about her academic background. In return, the reaction of people in the art industry was accompanied with utter owe when she told them she has a degree in business. Nowadays, galleries no longer ask about the degree.
After endless attempts and persistence, some galleries gave her the opportunity to showcase her work. First in Casablanca then around Europe in many cities, such as in Paris, Spain, and Italy. It was important to visit many exhibitions to get an opportunity to exhibit your work. She likes to integrate a space within her household to practice her craft. Thus, she built her own studio within the houses she has lived in in order to make every place very familiar to her. Familiarity and safety are key factors in her artwork.
Elements and Objects Within Art artist
When you observe the artwork created by Mrs. Houda; you will notice different elements and objects. Especially chairs and trees. Also landscapes of nature infused within these objects. For her, she wants to give viewers the chance to be critical and reflective. The landscapes are inspired from the beautiful nature in Switzerland, her mother’s homeland. Keeping the attachments linked to places and even people through her paintings. Through her art pieces, she explained it is more about her family’s story. She has grandparents of four different nationalities which was very influential.
”Music is a link between our past and present”Houda Terjuman
The memories she has are all about smells, objects, and even music. Her mother always listened to Italian music which is the spoken language in their household. While her father enjoyed listening to Arabic music such as Um Kaltoum. Through the images we get to remember the memories. Empty chairs in her paintings are both real and also from her imagination. The emptiness is an indication to the people who left the place. She brings back the memory of the people through the painted chairs.
She wanted to give the sensation that people are sitting in the chair or once sat in that chair through a specific memory. Mixing feelings linked to leaving a home behind or family behind but keeping the memory alive. In addition, you can also notice that many of her objects are for example pianos. In her childhood, she learned to play this instrument but didn’t really like it. This object reminds her of memories linked to sounds. The objectified piano in her artwork brings back the sounds and melodies she once played as a young girl.
The concept of leaving a house, family, and even a home country behind is embodied through the different objects. Mrs. Houda clearly explained that it is not a sense of abandonment. In fact, it is more about having the courage to leave for a better future but still be able to visit those memories. For instance, in some of her work, you can see an abandoned piano. Given how heavy pianos are, they are always left behind when leaving a home behind.
While on the other hand, the tree symbolises people. As she didn’t want to paint people, instead she paints symbols that would represent people or other object. By observing her artwork, she wants people to imagine and ask questions. Giving people the chance to imagine and wonder through her work. ”Mixing imagination and reality because imagination makes things nicer”. You make reality much nicer through imagination, she add. Mrs. Houda is painting with her own world, life, imagination, and her stories.
Memories From Houda’s Childhood
Her parents have a huge influence in her work. When she was a kid, she studied with both French and Moroccan students. In the beginning, she didn’t speak the language and she felt as if she was floating above the children. Given the fact that they were all familiar with each other since they could communicate through the language. Nonetheless, it wasn’t the case for her. It is the reason why her objects have the concept of floating which you can see in the artwork below. As a kid, she wanted to feel rooted not floating.
When she grew up, she realized that it was totally okay to be floating. She wanted to have many identities and to also float. The concept was no longer negative. A turning point to realize she no longer has to be rooted anywhere because she has freedom. She added that moving between houses, cities, or even countries gives you the freedom of choosing your life and her parents gave her this possibility. To be everywhere and to be open-minded but mostly, to be open to others. Moreover, you can enrich yourself through different identities and the more you have, the more you will open and curious of everything.
”Remain sincere in art”Houda Terjuman
Throughout her career, she tries not to be frustrated in Art. Her paintings reflect her mood and she doesn’t want to give the frustrated image through her artwork. Her advice to artists ”don’t give up, keep trying and keep sending your work. the competition is high but with persistent and to be stubborn, you can make it. Don’t get carried away with others’ requests if it doesn’t represent you”.
You can check her website for more information: Contemporary Art | Houda Terjuman
Also on Instagram: Houda Terjuman 🇸🇾🇨🇭🇲🇦 (@houdaterjuman) • Instagram photos and videos