Feminine consciousness by Teeb Aljammal
Teeb recently exhibited her latest art collection, FEMININE CONSCIOUSNESS for the re-opening of the Refugio Café. We talked to her to know more about her story, her “personal journey” as she likes to call it, her art and the Open Art Space, which she has been regularly joining for almost two years.
Teeb is originally from Syria but spent most of her childhood and teenagehood in Saudi Arabia. As she explains it herself in this interview, having grown up between those two countries and cultures greatly impacted her art and personal development. Taib is a brave and resilient young woman. Her journey hasn´t always been an easy one but she always kept on going and never gave up. Her paintings are proof of that.
Her latest collection, FEMININE CONSCIOUSNESS, is full of life, deepness, chaos and structure at the same time. Most importantly, it represents a particular form of powerful femininity, offering a new perspective on what femininity can mean.
You recently exhibited your latest artwork collection in the Café at Refugio. It was your first exhibition, correct?
It was my first solo exhibition, yes. I didn’t do a formal opening. It was more spontaneous because I don’t have my signature on the paintings, as you can see. I received a lot of nice feedback, and I have a couple of people interested in buying some of them, so this is pretty exciting.
Can you tell us a bit more about the title of the exhibition and the collection, FEMININE CONSCIOUSNESS?
When I started painting at the Open Art Space, I wanted to discover what I had learned about myself in the last years. So I started putting myself out there through painting. I often find it difficult to describe what I feel in words, and art helps me in this process. I was trying to understand how my consciousness had been evolving and what role womanhood played in this process. And I came to the conclusion that the existence of my womb in my body gave me more compassion, more grace to understand, have patience, and grow and evolve through pain. So those paintings are primarily about my personal journey.
This sounds like quite a transformational process. Very inspiring… So, how did you start painting?
My journey started in Saudi Arabia, this is where I began painting, and I think it played an essential role in my journey as a female artist. It was really hard to be a foreign woman in Saudi Arabia, I didn’t feel like I had a voice, and it felt like other people were controlling me. The school I went to gave a lot of space to art. Every Sunday, we had two hours of art, and I had a teacher who really believed in me. We would usually have a subject that we had to base ourselves on to paint, but she would tell me: “Teeb, you can paint whatever you want”. I guess that she already knew that following rules was challenging for me. So I think that this is how I started using painting as a way to express myself when I felt like I didn’t have the words to do so. Because in Saudi Arabia, even speaking was difficult for a woman.
You have been joining the Open Art Space for some time now, what role did it play in the development of your art?
For as long as I can remember, I have always searched for safety, love and acceptance. I joined the Open Art Space through my sister. And the first person I talked to was Hania (the former project manager of Open Hearts Space). I remember her telling me that I had arrived at the right place. And those words were the beginning of a long healing process. After a long time, I felt capable and safe. I started coming regularly and just loved the atmosphere. I felt accepted, supported, loved, celebrated. I remember feeling that I could create without having to be in control. In the beginning, I only used to paint on small canvases, and slowly, Tosia (the current project manager) started bringing me bigger and bigger canvases. Before that, I took part in a foundation class at the Weissensee Kunst Hochschule and met an incredible female artist, Nadira, who kept on telling me: “Teeb, you are scared of expressing yourself”. So I kept that in mind, and since then, I’ve been painting on bigger canvases and started discovering more of myself and what I could do.
It seems that the Open Art Space is such a special and unique place that is hard to describe. How would you describe it to someone who never joined it?
It is a safe space, created by everyone who joins it, where one can express its true self without carrying about a thing in the world- a place where one feels free to be authentic and where one can feel supported and accepted. There was a time when I stopped coming and when I came back, I remember feeling celebrated, and like I was belonging, which made me realize that I want this place to exist forever and everywhere.
I think that this world needs more spaces such as these. So many people are looking for safety and acceptance. With the clash of cultures in Berlin, I also believe that art can be a way to break the ice and connect people. There are no borders within the Open Art Space. Everyone is accepted. It doesn’t matter where you are from, your education level, or the languages you speak. It is like a break from the world. I think that we cannot minimise the number of people who are searching for safety. And painting has a healing power. It is a way to deal with feelings without having to face them. I often painted when facing dark emotions such as fear, and painting helped me to process those feelings. I think that art speaks for itself.
I remember you saying that you would like to export this concept to other places such as Syria?
Yes, my dream was always to have such places in all the neighbourhoods in Syria for children whose families cannot provide them with safety. When I came here, and when I saw that such a place exists, it was a realization coming true.
What are you currently working on and what are your projects for the future?
I am currently gathering poems that I wrote for each painting that expressed what I was feeling at that moment. I am collecting them in one book, and I would like to publish them. I am also going towards creative writing at the moment. I recently took part in a fictional realism writing class, and I am now developing a short story into a short novel. Writing in English always gave me a feeling of freedom. I’ve always had too much respect for Arabic. It feels like an ocean, and I think that it is easier for me to swim in English. But more generally, I want to continue discovering myself through art and creativity.
Thank you so much, Teeb for having taken the time to talk to us. We wish you a lot of success and are looking forward to seeing more of your art!
If you want to see Teeb´s paintings you have until the 4th of August to do so at the Refugio Café, Lenaustrasse 4, 12047 Berlin! You can purchase her paintings directly there or follow her on Instagram to see more of her work.