Visual arts

The Institut français is supporting Abdelkader Benchamma's first solo exhibition

Black and white allows me to remove something I find unnecessary, and above all to remain in an abstract and imaginary dimension.

Abdelkader Benchamma has become one of the leading talents in contemporary drawing, having invented a practice somewhere between graphic design, design and comics. He sees his work as a form of writing, in which he uses both felt-tip gouache and ink. In works that resemble hectic stagings and visual scenarios, he currently exhibits all over the world, including at Toronto's Power Plant, where his first solo show has just opened, supported by the Institut français. 

Published on 06/11/2023

5 min

Born in Mazamet (France) in 1975, Abdelkader Benchamma first studied at the Beaux-Arts de Montpellier, where he obtained a DNAP with honours in 2000. He continued his training at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, graduating in 2003. Two years later, he sent his sketchbook, Les derniers seront les derniers, to agnès b., which led to his taking part in the Draw! exhibition at the Galerie du Jour. His first works established him as an emerging talent on the contemporary drawing scene, and he went on to have a string of group and solo exhibitions in France and abroad. In 2011, his second solo show, Dark Matter, again at Galerie du Jour agnès b., was presented alongside the publication of his first monograph. 

As his career progressed, Abdelkader Benchamma gradually abandoned painting completely in favour of drawing, with its nervous, dynamic lines. In 2015, he was invited by the Drawing Center in New York to inaugurate their new mural drawing project, The Wall Drawing commission. The following year, his work Matière Noire was inaugurated at the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie in Paris, his first permanent work. 

Abdelkader Benchamma's drawings are inspired by visual scenarios based on his reflections on space and its physical reality, its limits and its zones of contact with mental space. The slippage of reality, the intrusion of the invisible and indeterminate materials in transformation are at the heart of his work. He uses black-and-white wall drawings for their simplicity and graphic power, while developing a language designed to arouse doubt in visitors. He creates settings that make visitors question the reality of their perception, then plunges them into universes that are both unstable and moving. 

For several years now, Abdelkader Benchamma has been exploring the origins of the universe in its morphological and symbolic components. He essentially works with graphic material as an archetypal sign and questions the impression of the image in neurobiology. With Rayon Fossile, he also embarked on research into drawing as imprint. 

Abdelkader Benchamma's reputation quickly spread internationally. At the very start of his career, he was commissioned by the Drawing Center in New York, where his installation remained for an entire year. He was a resident at the Villa Medici in Rome in 2018 before, a year later, being represented by the Galerie Templon in Paris, Brussels and New York. 

He also made his debut in Phaidon's Vitamin 2D, New Perspectives in Drawing, a publication devoted entirely to contemporary drawing. It features around a hundred key artists from around the world. In 2023, his work was exhibited worldwide, including at the Fondation François Schneider in Wattwiller, the Het Noordbrabants Museum in the Netherlands and the Power Plant in Toronto. 

  • 2005


    Abdelkader Benchamma takes part in the Draw! exhibition curated by Jean-François Sanz.

  • 2015


    He is invited by the Drawing Center in New York to inaugurate their new project of wall drawings.

  • 2018


    Residency at the Villa Médicis in Rome.

  • 2023


    First solo exhibition at the Power Plant in Toronto.

L'institut français, LAB