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Safaa Erruas, the unique way in which a Moroccan artist voices feelings and emotions

Safaa Erruas is a globally recognized artist; known for her awe-inspiring installations and drawings that have earned her countless awards and praise. Erruas' inspiration stems from the personal as well as issues that concern all humanity; resulting in creations that are relevant and evoke deep reflection and emotion.

Moroccan artist Safaa Erruas. / DR
Estimated read time: 3'

Growing up in Tétouan, a city vibrant with culture and home to the Fine Arts Institute of Tétouan, Erruas has spent her life surrounded by art. She recalls loving making crafts as a child and at the early age of seven, already being very methodical and having a sensitivity to materials.

At the age of fourteen, she began going to the Fine Arts Institute during her free time to learn about art history and drawing. When Erruas graduated high school, she began studying science and the University of Science in Tétouan. After quickly realizing that science wasn't her calling, she abandoned her studies at the university and to apply for the Fine Arts Institute. Erruas' time in art school shaped her as an artist. It led her to discover the means, medium, and method that she felt she could best express herself.

 

«When I was studying at the science university, I was receiving a lot of information, but it never felt like this information was just for me», she told Yabiladi. «With fine arts, it was completely different. Even if I didn't agree with what I was learning, it was still interesting for me because it helped me to know what I didn't like (…) I found my identity as an artist at the Fine Arts Institute».

The power of white

Right out of university, Erruas started working independently and participating in residencies and exhibitions around the globe. Her usage of the color white, as well as other distinct materials in her artwork, has attracted attention.

However, though the absence of color in her pieces has become a point of commentary, her reasoning is quite simple. «It's become very natural for me to work only with white. I don't want to complicate the situation», she explained. Erruas believes that white and its varying hues can convey the same feelings associated with other colors. «I don't force myself to remain working on white color. I may change. I feel free and comfortable with white right now. I don't need colors to express myself», she stated.

Erruas's work is also characterized by her usage of materials such as needles, razor blades, and fiberglass, which help her to communicate the feelings she hopes to evoke in her pieces. 

«Elements take on a different dimension when we take them outside their function. Their value is different. There is a connotation of what is the function of needles and the feeling it communicates to the public. The needle both mends and pricks. It is the sharp part of the needle that interests me. It disturbs you, particularly when repeated 10,000 times».

Safaa Erruas

Reflecting wounds and memories

The materials are also symbolic of the concrete and theoretical elements and the impact they possess physically and internally. Through her materials Erruas reflects on «the wounds on our memories». They are tools to reflect the universal, human, and individual scars as well as the information we receive and are deeply affected by as human beings through the news. 

«I can believe that we can start something very private to communicate something very universal. This is what happens throughout the artwork. This is what allows us to communicate even if we aren't speaking the same language or aren't from the same culture».

Safaa Erruas

Erruas' art is influenced by her personal experiences, society, and the issues that concern us all as citizens of the world. Her work is not intended to represent things directly, but rather to express a feeling. For example, while many of her pieces are interpreted as depicting borders, Erruas asserts, «I'm not into direct representation, but I try to communicate this emotion associated with borders, and it's up to the viewers to decide what borders they are thinking of».

Despite not directly representing borders, Erruas states that borders «concern me as an artist, a citizen, and a human being».

Erruas uses art as a means of expressing herself and working through her emotions regarding issues that occupy her thoughts. It is a way for her to question and explore. The Tétouan-native artist is currently working on pieces concerning climate change; a topic that both «impacts and confuses» her.

Erruas often ponders why art’s role in society is questioned, especially when it «has the potential to express people's feelings more than political speeches». As for the role of art in her personal life, «it allows me to continue growing. I don't just consider it my work; it's my life. Art isn't only a philosophy: it's an existence».

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