Collaborative Painting Presentation MAEA Fall Conference 2015

As I was researching ideas for collaborative art I came across Tunisian Collaborative Painting. I was so moved by the idea and potential of this practice that I arranged to present the topic at the Michigan Art Education Association 2015 Conference. 

Attendants were invited to work in small groups together in creating an acrylic 30” x 40” canvas incorporating the Tunisian Collaborative Painting technique. This technique requires groups of artists to apply a set of democratic rules that result in a cohesive painting with the appearance of a sole artistic presence. They will decide how they will approach the work in regards to design, technique, process and operations. 

The painters work in silence for an allotted period, and there is no preconceived subject. The concept behind Tunisian Collaborative Painting is simple, yet profound. It celebrates the oneness of all human beings and the wonder of the creative process.

Tunisian artist Hechmi Ghachem created Tunisian Collaborative Painting in 1988 during the rule of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Ghachem set out to reclaim freedom of expression for Tunisian artists through collaborative paintings.

Tunisian Collaborative Painting adheres to the following rules:

  • There is no preconceived subject
  • One artist starts the painting
  • Anyone can paint at any time and anyone can paint over anyone else’s work
  • One of the artists is appointed arbiter to settle any disputes
  • If an artist thinks the painting is finished he raises his hand and the arbiter takes a vote; only a majority of the artists can declare a painting finished
  • A painting can take a maximum of three hours
  • The painting is created in silence

Visit PRI's The World to hear the audio clip on Collaborative Painting