A lot of work goes into creating art like this but it’s not in the order that you’d think. Yasmina Alaoui and Marco Guerra mix old and new techniques together to create life-size body portraits that are mysteriously beautiful. In the series they call 1001 Dreams, Guerra first photographs their nude subjects in black and white either with film or Polaroid. Next, Alaoui draws the complex Henna-like patterns, by hand, mostly with pen and ink and with some watercolor. She incorporates textures such as parchment, leaves, and dried insect wings. Finally, it’s all carefully layered together.
We caught up with the the creative duo to ask them a few questions. Read that interview below.
How and why did you decide to take on this type of art form?
Our aim for this project, 1001 Dreams, was to separate ourselves from the contemporary art trend, which in the recent years have often been about being cynical, cold, and overly conceptual to the detriment of craft.
We both come from warmhearted cultures (Morocco/Chile) and wanted to reflect this in our art. We wanted to create something beautiful, comforting, appealing, that made references to old masters of painting and photography, but yet making it contemporary by creating visuals that were new, unique and different. We were also inspired by the magical surrealism of the 1001 Nights, and the beauty and sensuality of their stories.
What has been the public’s reaction to it?
It’s been a great success internationally. We receive fan mail from all around the world. People are touched by many different aspects of our work: the classic and elegance of the photography, the complexity of the patters, the highly detailed craftsmanship, the innovation of technique, and the serenity and honesty of the pieces make the work attractive to a very wide audience. Also, surprisingly, the nudes have been very well accepted in the Middle East.
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Can you tell us about what the drawings mean?
Most of the references a based on nature’s elements (plants, animals, insects), with a few spiritual symbols found in old cultures globally. The message is of common humanity, respect of nature, magic, fluidity, love, seduction, hopes and dreams. We like to keep the meaning mysterious and let the viewer add their own interpretation to our work.
Where do you go from here?
We continue elaborating on this series, adding new elements and stories. We are, as well, developing entirely new art projects in photography, sculpture and film, both together and individually.
Thank you for the interview, Yasmina and Marco. Wonderful work.