Overcoming Adversity through Art: An Interview with Walid

Walid Painting

We all love a good book or movie about an underdog who is victorious despite all the odds stacked against him. But how many of us can tell underdog tales from our personal experiences?

Walid’s story is a true, uplifting, and heartwarming story about overcoming great adversity, following your passion in life and turning tragedy into triumph. Walid is living proof that determination and hope can overcome great adversities in life. Despite his disability in the use of his legs, Walid is an artist with an amazing artistic talent that no one can deny. His artworks are visual representations that inspire us to look at adversity as surmountable obstacles.

Walid’s Childhood

Walid described his childhood as having to live with many difficulties. Due to a tragedy causing disability in both his legs, Walid was not able to leave his home as a child unlike other children his age. His life was confined within his house and he spent most of his childhood on his bed. Walid lived mostly within his home for 27 years and he described his childhood as being very sad at that time.

During these 27 years, he often pondered about what to pursue in life. As a child, he had a habit of drawing with a pen. This was a good way for him to preserve the pictures as a memento to look at in the future. Walid also had an earnest curiosity about life outside his home and would imagine what the structures of houses and mosques might look like. With nothing more than his own creative imagination, he would attempt to draw these structures.

Freedom at Last

When Walid first attained a wheelchair, he felt an incredible sense of exhilaration at being free at last! He was finally able to have mobility access outside his home and he enjoyed every moment of it meeting people, eating at restaurants, and making new discoveries in the city. After 27 years, Walid was finally able to rely on his own visual senses rather than his imagination to draw the structures he had always enjoyed drawing at home.

Walid's Artwork Inspired by Traditional Djerbian Lifestyle
Walid’s Artwork Inspired by Traditional Djerbian Lifestyle

Along with these surges of new experiences and creative inspirations also came an evolution to his art form from pen drawings to painting. He purchased his own paintbrushes and paint pallets, and began painting on his own without any formal training. Since then, Walid developed his own specialty in creating artwork by painting on wood, glass, straw, pottery, and thick paper.

Walid Painting
Walid Painting

Gallerie Walid Artiste

Beginning in 1999, Walid started working as an independent artist in art exhibitions. It was not until after the year 2011 when Walid finally achieved his dream of opening his own art gallery store, Gallerie Walid Artiste with the financial support of his father.

Gallerie Walid Artiste
Gallerie Walid Artiste

His artwork had been featured in many art exhibitions in Djerba in the past. In 2013, Hotel Djerba Beach invited Walid to participate as an artisan in a Tunisian cultural night festival featuring cultural music and dance on every Thursday night. You can still find Walid working in a small boutique at Hotel Djerba Beach every Thursday night selling his artworks inspired by the traditional Djerbian lifestyle.

Walid’s artworks had also been featured at 4 art exhibitions in Medenine, a major town in south-eastern Tunisia in the past, as well as 2 art exhibitions in the capital city of Tunis. Outside of Tunisia, Walid’s artwork has been featured in an art exhibition in Germany in 2001 and in another art exhibition in Egypt in 2002.

Walid at the Djerba Expo in Oct 2017
Walid at the Djerba Expo in Oct 2017

Today, Walid is a well-known artist locally in Houmt Souk, Djerba. His artworks represent a greater and more meaningful purpose for those aspiring to overcome adversities in life.

Visit Gallerie Walid Artiste

Address: Station de Taxi Sidi Brihim, Houmt Souk, Djerba, Tunisia, Postal 4180

About the author

Joshua Mok has been living in Tunisia since 2016. He has traveled extensively throughout the country, and has firsthand experience with the language, people, and culture of North Africa. It is his passion to introduce to others some of the best destinations in North Africa that he has experienced.

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