ARSLANE LERARI. Painter and actor

Arslan put his sleek stamp on everything. Painter, television, theater and film actor. Graduated from the  Fine Arts school of Algiers, he took the graphic design professor role within this institution for 35 years now. Today, at 68, this artist to eternal youth, still enjoying life. Let’s meet. 



Artissimo: How old were you when you first interests in art emerged ?  

Lerari Arslan: When I was 12. I began to draw and paint. I did it in hiding from my father because he disapproved of my artistic passion. When he caught me devotimg myself to my favorite pastime, he scolded me harshly “That’s what you’re wasting your time for, instead of revising your lessons? ” He said. As soon as he had turned his back, I regain my sheets, my pencils and my gouache. This consuming passion for drawing and painting also earned me some setbacks with my teachers. While tending an ear distracted over, I produced works of art on paper, causing the anger of my teachers. Finally, I was always first in this class (laughs 

A: Theater was your second love.  

A L: I was 18 and I loved laughing and clowning around in front of my friends. I had just discovered the sketches of humorists like Raymond Devos, Guy Bedos and Fernand Raynaud. Besides, I imitated to perfection Fernand Raynaud. My gestures made my friends  laugh so hard. It helped me build up my confidence. One day, a friend who worked as accompanist for opera singing piano at the Conservatory of Algiers, told me about an audition. I showed up at the Algiers conservatory for the casting. I was given a Jean de La Fontaine fable to play, what I have done it in a light and fanciful tone. My teacher was charmed. Thus the theater doors opened to me, even before cinema and television. 

A: What is more difficult,  playing on stage or in front of a camera? 

A L: Playing in front of an audience is more difficult. We feel like we are naked. No cheating is possible, no big plan to convey emotions. All work is based on the body language and voice. And it is on live. By contrast, the camera is an object that we can forget after a moment. Also, the catch can be repeated as many times as necessary. Unquestionably, cinema is easier! 

A: Who are the artists that you admire the most? 

A L: Willem de Kooning paintings (died 1997), American painter of Dutch origin, forerunner of abstract expressionism touches me deep inside. This painter seduced me by  the force of the expression of his work. His inner look expressed a state of mind and a philosophical sense of life. I feel inheritor of something from Willem de kooning despite myself. The other great painter that touched me by the force of the expression of his work is M’Hamed Issiakhem. He is a great master of the Algerian painting. 

A: You are for little more two years in retirement. How do you occupy your days? 

A L: Retirement is wonderful. No time constraint. I think it is a form of freedom. I spend hours meditating, contemplating nature. Sea, trees, mountains, landscapes … this is a pure happiness for me. Nirvana. And then there’s my painting and the frequent visits that I made to my three children who now live in Canada. 

A: What do you think of the establishment Artissimo? 

L A: This school where I exhibited twice, remember me the excitement that reigned at the Conservatory of Algiers, in the 1970s, when I did my first classes. For me, Artissimo represents an authentic breath of fresh air for all those  who love art. 

Katia Sabri