Born in 1959, in Casablanca, Morocco, of Algerian parents, Driss Ouadahi grew up in Algeria. He studied at the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts d’Alger before enrolling and subsequently graduating from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany.
Driss Ouadahi takes as his subject matter the built environment of urban alienation - sterile modernist public housing developments, wire netting and underground passageways. Ouadahi paints works of paradoxical beauty using this stark urbanism as his springboard.
Currently Ouadahi works in three milieu- landscapes, fences and underpasses. Persistent in each are his core concerns of geometric abstraction, transparency and the implication of the veil.
His large formal landscapes are montages of spaces and places he knows, with human-scale details often omitted. His labyrinthine layering of planes creates space and perspective that is both familiar and confusing. The accuracy Ouadahi’s execution belies the fragility of the structures he paints. Ouadahi’s fences recall the wire-netting common in the metropolitan suburbs of France and Algeria. They delimit zones into which entrance is not permitted and demarcate privileged zones. Ouadahi’s underpasses are the most illusionistic and are based on actual subways in Germany.
Ouadahi has exhibited in solo exhibitions including; Systems of demacration, Von er Heydt-Kunsthalle Wuppertal-Barmen, Germany, 2018; Transposition, Caroline Pagès gallery, Lisbon, Portugal, 2016; Breach in the Silence, Hosfelt Gallery, SF, USA, 2016; Inside Zenith, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2014; Implosion, Caroline Pagès gallery, Lisbon, Portugal, 2013; Trans-Location, Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CA, USA, 2013;Breathing Space, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, UAE, 2012; Galerie Horst Schuler, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2011; Densité, Hosfelt Gallery, NY, USA, 2010; Herbert-Weisenburger-Stiftung, Rastatt, Germany, 2009; dok25a, (with Yun Lee), Düsseldorf, Germany, 2008; Unexpected Neighborhoods, Hosfelt Gallery, NY, USA, 2007; Another Place, Another Me, Hosfelt Gallery, SF, CA, USA, 2007; Atelier am Eck, (with Mourad Messoubeur), Düsseldorf, Germany, 2005; Künstlerverein Malkasten, (with Mourad Messoubeur), Düsseldorf, Germany, 2005; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Istres, France, 2003; Institut Français, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2001; and Raum X, Düsseldorf, Germany, 1996.
He has also taken part in a number of group exhibitions including: Dessine vos Desseins, Musée public national d'art contemporain d'alger, Algeria, 2018; L'un et L'Autre, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France, 2018; 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, with Lawrie Shabibi, London, UK; Alfred University, New York, USA, 2017; PERPETUAL CONSTRUCTION, CAB Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels, Belgium, 2017; Beautiful Stranger, Museum De Wieger , Deurne, Netherlands, 2017; 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London, UK, 2016; La Ville au Loin, Les Turbulence, FRAC Centre, Orléans, France, 2016; Abu Dhabi Art, with Lawrie Shabibi, UAE, 2015; Memory, Place, Desire, The Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Haverford College, PA, USA, 2014; Biennale de l’Art Africain Contemporain, 11th Edition, Dakar, Senegal, 2014; Abu Dhabi Art, with Lawrie Shabibi, UAE, 2014; Tour de 25 Ans De Créativité Arabe, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Riyadh, KSA, Manama, Bahrain, 2013; 25 Ans De Créativité Arabe, Institut De Monde d’Arab, Paris, France, 2012; Horizons Croises, Moussem culturel international d’Assilah, Asilah, Morocco. 2012; Semi-permeable, Hosfelt Gallery, NY, USA, 2012; Desviar do olhar, Caroline Pagès Gallery, Lisbon, Portugal, 2012; Dok 25a, DeveningProjects+editions, Chicago, USA, 2012; Magreb: Dos Orillas, Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, Spain, 2011; Le Retour, 3ème Festival International d’Art Contemporain d’Alger, Algeria, 2011; Future of a Promise at Venice Biennale 54, Venice, Italy, 2011; Geometric Days, Exit Art, NYC, NY, USA, 2011; EINFLUSS: 8 from Düsseldorf – Introducing the Next Wave from Germany, Hosfelt Gallery, NY and SF, USA, 2010; Cairo Biennale 12, Egypt, 2010; archiTECHtonica, CU Art Museum, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA, 2010; In Full Color, Hosfelt Gallery, NY, USA, 2010; Looking Inside Out, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, Norway, 2009; Crossings/Traversées, Bab Rouah/Bab El Kebir, Rabat, Morocco, 2009; Périfériks, Centre d’Art Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 2009;Watching the Detectives, MeierhofProjekte, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2008;Iconoclastes: Les Territoires de l ́Esprit, Gallerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris, France, 2008 and Art Entre Quatre Murs, Les Abattoirs, Toulouse, France, 2008.
Ouadahi’s work is in several public collections including Modern Forms, London, UK; FRAC Centre, Orléans, France; Herbert-Weisenburger-Stiftung, Rastatt, Germany; Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Germany; Nadour Collection; Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE; Kamel Lazaar Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey; and Stadtsparkasse Baden-Baden, Germany.
Driss Ouadhi has won the Grand Prix Léopold Sédar Senghor Prize at the 11th edition of Dak’Art, the Biennial of Contemporary African Art in Dakar, Senegal in 2014.
Ouadahi currently lives and works in Düsseldorf.