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“But really eye-catching was the presence of Houria Niati, an Algerian now based in London. An extremely striking presence, she sports a gypsy look with huge chunky jewellery and flowing clothes on a pavilion designed like a tent.

She said her paintings are a tribute to a 9th century Middle East composer 'Ziryab Ibn Nafi', forced to exile in Spain. One was intrigued to find her paintings half covered with rich brocade, but all became clear when a crowd slowly gathered and she broke into full-throated song in her husky voice and her paintings were unveiled one by one. The Arab-Andalusian songs she sang had been composed by Ibn Nafi and had been brought back from Spain by arabs and Maures fleeing the Inquisition. She said her paintings were a translation, or text of his music.

Her vivid personality, seen so clearly in her paintings, reflects her own complex cultural background – She grew up in Algeria during the war of Liberation against the French and speaks their language like a native, yet sustained her strong Arab-Berber influence in home. All its myths, legends, strong metaphorical traditions were brought together with French surrealist and romantic traditions after her move to Britain where she gained the confidence to proudly show off her unique heritage.”

Dubai , UAE Weekend Magazine, Sharjah Third Biennial of Arts,March 1997