Sisters Leila and Jasmin Chouikha paint in completely different styles
Born in Switzerland, Leila and Jasmin Chouikha grew up surrounded by art, in a house where the paintings and statues of their Tunisian father, a recognised photographer, painter, and sculptor, were everywhere. Unfortunately, he passed away when they were still very young, but they could feel his presence through his artworks, which made their connection to art inevitable.
“It’s in our blood,” commented Leila. The sisters recognised that their father was very talented and that his paintings look like a combination of their artwork. Their sense of imagination comes not only from their father but other relatives as well, such as their grandfather Werner and great uncles from Switzerland, as well as their uncles from Tunisia. “We come from a very artistic family,” the sisters agreed.
They both started painting as children, just as a hobby, and as adults they first followed other career paths: Leila, one year older than her sister, studied Hotel Management and later worked as a dealer at the Swiss Casino, whilst Jasmin was part of the entertainment crew on cruise ships around the world.
Eventually, the sisters opened and ran a successful cocktail bar in Switzerland for three years, where Jasmin exhibited and sold her first artworks. Although business was good, they decided it was time to try something different. “It was time for a change,” Jasmin recalled. In 2011, her desire to go travelling with her daughter (only two years old then) grew so strong that she went on a trip around the world, where she got more inspiration from other cultures, and even worked with Aboriginal artists in Australia.
At the same time, Leila fulfilled one of her dreams. She went to Hollywood to study Method Acting, where she met famous actors like Eddie Murphy, and worked together with Steve Railsback as her mentor. She studied hard and enjoyed celebrity events such as the Golden Globes.
In the meantime, Leila and Jasmin’s mother moved to Portugal. Leila came back from Hollywood to visit her mother in Lagos in 2012, after a year of learning and glamour. And so did Jasmin with her daughter, when their world tour ended. The sisters never returned to Switzerland and Portugal became home.
Besides being an artist, Jasmin works as a skipper and as an interpreter. Since moving to Lagos, she has opened three different galleries. Leila, who started ballet when she was four years old and did group dancing later, and was even a choreographer, decided to devote herself to her passion and explore Oriental dance. Portugal gave her the opportunity to do what she liked.
As a single mum with two children, now aged four and five, Leila also took up painting professionally and exploring her spiritual connection. She likes to paint outdoors. “It’s just me, all the angels and spirits around me, and my painting,” she revealed, adding that she sees which colours she is going to use but not the shapes.
Jasmin, on the other hand, chooses the place to paint, inside or outside, depending on her inspiration and, whilst Leila is spontaneous, Jasmin knows exactly what she is going to paint before she starts. Although Jasmin and Leila grew up in the same environment, full of creativity and inspiration, and have the same roots, their artworks are almost opposites. Leila does abstract paintings and Jasmin mostly follows realism and reality mixed with fantasy.
Their inspiration and style are very different. Leila is more into dreams and astrology; Jasmin loves exploring different techniques and transfers them into painting. She paints figurative art, portraits, landscapes, still life and even comics. Her work has been shown in galleries all over the world.
Leila wants people to feel and see different things, and to enter a new world when looking at her paintings. With the abstract, she intends to open the imagination and make people dream. “You can see something completely different every time you look at my paintings,” she says.
They like to paint in series – a numerologist, Leila has sequences of 12 pieces, all in different sizes. Jasmin has sets of several works sharing the same theme, with boats, western inspirations, and many others.
The sisters both paint by their own inspiration and they also take commissions. Leila and Jasmin are planning to open a new gallery in Lagos very soon, but, in the meantime, you can explore more of their work on social media.
By Beatriz Maio