For Miami polyglot painter Aidan Marak, words carry special mystique. French poems, old Arabic newspapers, tongue-in-cheek English phrases—she weaves them all throughout her abstract paintings, portraits and collages. Some are scrawled in big graffiti letters; others are small like secrets, beckoning the viewer closer. “Words make you travel, make you dream, make you see life from different perspectives,” the artist says.
Such fascination with language feels inevitable for Marak, who grew up in Morocco, studied art and design in Paris, then worked in New York. Working for years internationally in interior design, she always practiced painting for herself. The transition to full-time artist came in 2004 when Marak moved to Miami, where her paintings attracted commissions.
Women—their fears, aspirations and affirmations—underscore much of this work. And whether floating on ribbons of paint or peeking through layers of collage, words articulate the subject’s dialogue. They reflect women Marak connected with around the world: from mothers balancing family and careers to those from Moroccan tribes reclaiming their sensuality. Expressing their interiority through text counters the way women historically existed in Western art: solely as subjects of beauty. “Women are beautiful, but they’re not just beautiful,” the artist muses. “We are sisters, fighters. We are so much more.”
Though thematically focused, Marak’s creative process is organic; a poem or color could inspire something new. She experiments with surfaces like wood, linen and Japanese kraft paper. Using acrylics from monochrome to neon, the artist paints on the floor of her home studio. Her current all-white series focuses on texture, layering paint and gold ink on jute. Language remains a constant in these new works, exploring Marak’s anxieties as an artist. Even her alias—a reverse of her real name, Nadia Karam—offers a final word play; “Marak” nods to her roots as a near homophone of Maroc, the French name for “Morocco.” There is also power in naming oneself, a declaration of self-agency. Marak hopes her paintings do the same for others, especially women. “I wish every woman can find her own voice,” she says.