From sign to symbol

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During this phase of searching for landmarks, the return to the sources carried out in his practice of ceramics and the impact of the Aouchem movement prove to be insufficient, according to Elmes. The latter ultimately intervene only on aesthetics, he explains. Now, his concern is now to penetrate into the primitive semantic dimension of these motifs, to move from the sign defined in time and space to the symbol whose meaning goes far back in time and remains eternal. “The craftsmanship has signs in it as well as symbols.”

These symbols are powerful, says the painter, their signified remain active from time immemorial. The researchers who have been interested in it are already undergoing their presence engraved by man in the Neolithic era, more than 8000 years ago ; have they not been the first steps in writing ? Another discipline has found the active and significant effect of symbols in the language expressed by the human subconscious : psychoanalysis. Carl G. Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist who developed, at the beginning of the 20th century, the concept of the collective unconscious in his apprehension of the “reality of the soul” by drawing on anthropology, myths, dreams and religions, has identified in it universal archetypes common to humanity.

In addition, to return to the Berber motifs, studies that have been devoted to them demonstrate their universality by their presence in various spaces, especially Mediterranean and Amerindian spaces 1. As is shared the meaning of the symbols of this ancient common language consisting of triangles, diamonds, zigzags, circles, squares, etc. Indeed, Elmes believes in his reflection on the link between the idea and the form that abstraction preceded, the signified is at the base.

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