Dhahak Brahim Gafsa, 1931 – 2011

Dhahak Brahim

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Born in 1931 in a zaouîa in Gafsa in the south of Tunisia, Brahim Dhahak is the eldest of a family of seven children. He lost his mother at 8 and his father the following year. Orphan, he entered the Franco-Arab school and then enrolled in the technical high school of Sfax. He lives with a Corsican family with whom he will improve his French. He follows a chaotic schooling where drawing will always have a special place.

By dint of drawing and showing little interest in science, he was expelled from high school and left for Tunis with an uncle. He became a waiter, then butler in various French families. He took drawing lessons, painted and exhibited with the group from the School of Tunis. Helped by the Italian Consul, he left for Italy in 1958 with a scholarship from the School of Fine Arts in Rome to study painting from 1957 to 1961.

During this period he was introduced to painting (he was the pupil of Bartoli), mosaics, ceramics and especially engraving with the master engraver Macari. In 1961, he returned to Tunis and, with the help of friends, he managed to exhibit in Tunis, then in Switzerland. His work is starting to be recognized. In 1966, he moved to the village of Sidi Bou Said and devoted himself solely to art.


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He continued to exhibit between Tunisia, Switzerland and Germany and gained great fame. He paints scenes from everyday life, women, Tunisian landscapes, Sidi Bou Said, and also engraves a bestiary populated with fish, birds, horses and camels. He creates wall mosaics and composes monumental mosaics for the cultural center of Gafsa and for the port of La Goulette. Grand prize of the city of Tunis in 1991, he produced important engraving works around folio woodblock books. These are produced in his workshop in Sidi Bou Said: The Hilalian gesture in 1976, The birds of the Mediterranean, The camels and The fish of Tunisia. He received the national prize for plastic arts in 1994.

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