Héla Ammar

Héla Ammar was born on June 2, 1969, in Tunis (Tunisia). She lives and works in Sidi Bou Said (Tunisia). Héla Ammar is a visual artist with a PhD in law. At age 22, Héla Ammar got married and left her job teaching law in order to pursue a career in photography. She identifies as a militant feminist and expresses that in her photography. She gets her inspiration from her daily life and is well known for her self portraits. Héla Ammar goes against the social norms and challenges the ideas of religion, culture, and politics. Most of her art is in reference to the struggles in Tunisia. Since 2003, her art has been showcased all over Tunisia and around the world

Image courtesy of Lensculture

In an interview with Ibraaz.org, Héla Ammar sat down and discussed the reasoning behind her art. She said ” I have always considered the artistic act a political act, insofar as the artist takes on their own vision of the society in which they developed. Moreover, it is for this reason that a large part of my photography deals with the position of women in Tunisia. The revolution gave me the opportunity to deepen this approach by taking on more delicate subjects, such as repression under the old regime.” She wants her political views to be seen in her art and shows both sides of the fighting. She also went to local prisons in Tunisia to get a real world view of the hardships and see what little rights prisoners have.

Image courtesy of Middle East Centre Blog

Héla Ammar’s art is very powerful in expressing her views on the issues in Tunisia. Her work is depicting all of the hardships and political struggle in her home country. A project that she is working on will allow for an artistic archive from Tunisia. This archive would be open to anyone and can show the true heritage and history of Tunisia. She says in that same Ibraaz interview ” what we can say is that our art history is – if not totally incomplete – then at the very least fragmented. Effectively, we can establish that little of what has been written allows for a reading of Tunisian artistic production that is both comprehensive and analytical. “

In 2013 Héla Ammar spoke at the TEDxCarthage convention. She spoke about her experiences in prison talking to the inmates face to face. She wants to hear their stories and see what kind of people they are. She feels that the system and the government is not treating them fairly. She wants to get the message out about the injurious and horrid conditions they face in prison. Héla Ammar wants to make a statement and show people what really is happening in Tunisia.

All of the following data bellow is directly from Oneart. This data shows all of the places her art was showcased

Solo exhibitions:

  • 2010. Inter-dit, Galerie El Marsa, La Marsa, Tunisia
  • 2007. Galerie El Marsa, La Marsa, Tunisia
  • 2006. Galerie Kenais, St Prex, Switzerland
  • 2005. Galerie El Marsa, La Marsa, Tunisia
  • 2003. Galerie Mille Feuille, La Marsa, Tunisia

Art fairs:

  • 2012. Dream City, Biennial of Contemporary Art ,Tunis and Sfax
  • 2012. Printemps des Arts Fair Tunis, Tunisia
  • 2011. Festival des Droits Humains et des Cultures du Monde, Lahay-la-rose, France
  • 2010. Marrakech Art Fair
  • 2010. Dream city, Biennial of Contemporary Art , Tunisia
  • 2008. ArtDubai 08, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE,
  • 2007. ARTMAR, Biennial of Barcelona, Spain
  • 2007. ArtParis-AbuDhabi 07, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, UAE,
  • 2006. Salon International d’Art contemporain, Grenoble, France
  • 2006. Montreux Art Gallery, Switzerland
  • 2005. Rencontres d’Art contemporain, Genève, Switzerland

Group exhibitions: selection

  • 2013. World Nomads, New York, USA
  • 2013. L’avenir en rose, IFA Gallery, Berlin, Germany
  • 2012. The harassement exhibition, Darb center, Cairo, Egypt
  • 2012. Frontières, B’chira Art Center, Tunisia
  • 2011. Artocratie/ Inside-Out Tunisia, JR Project
  • 2011. No sky, No earth, Curatorial project Alina Dalva, Dar Mima, Gammarth
  • 2010. La part du corps, Curated by Rachida Triki, Palais Khereddine Musée de la ville de Tunis
  • 2009. Sur les traces de la peinture contemporaine (Contemporary Tunisian artists), Galerie El Marsa, Tunisia
  • 2009. Noir et blanc (Black and white), Galerie El Borj, Tunisia
  • 2009. Essmaâni (Listen to me), Palais Abdelya, Tunisia
  • 2008. Objets, Galerie Ammar Farhat, Tunisia
  • 2008. Art Connexions, Galerie El Marsa, Tunisia
  • 2007. L’un et l’autre ( The one and the other), Osnabruck, Germany
  • 2007. Group exhibition, Tunisian artists, Palais Khereddine, Tunis, Tunisia
  • 2005. Création féminine, sponsored by the Ministry of culture and UNESCO, Paris, France
  • 2005. Gallery Arcima, Paris, France
  • 2005. Espace d’Art El Téatro, Tunis, Tunisia
  • 2005. Mémoire de Demain, Galerie El Marsa, Tunisia
  • 2004. Rencontres Paix et Civilisation, organized and sponsored by NATO, Palais Khereddine, Tunis, Tunisia

Héla Ammar is much more than an artist, she is extremely passionate about her country and wants to make a change. She wants to define her country’s social structures and make the world a better place for all. Her art lets her express feelings and show her country’s heritage.

Featured Photo courtesy of Oneart.

Work Cited


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