Shasha Safir was born in Algeria and studied at the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Algiers. She married the Tunisian politician Driss Guiga (b. 1924), whom she met when he was a student in Algiers, and moved with him to Hammamet, where she would live until her death. While devoting herself to painting, she spent several years running the Aziza-Othmana women’s cultural club in Tunis, named after a pioneering 17th-century feminist figure.
As a portrait and landscape artist she worked on her oil paintings in an impressionist style. In many of her brightly coloured paintings of natural scenery, she used dominant hues of bright blue, brown and ochre. Her pieces La Cueillette des olives (Olive picking, 1992) and Village du Sud (Southern village, 2000), as well as many others, depict scenes of country life and its simplicity.
A master of cool tones, she was able to convey atmospheres in which human figures merge with their surroundings. Using a juxtaposition of small, quick brushstrokes that suggest volumes while blurring shapes, she was able to achieve the suggestion of slight movements. The overall harmony of the pieces is produced by the correspondence between blues and browns balanced between land and sky.
S. Safir Guiga began exhibiting her paintings and calligraphic work in 1961 in Tunis and abroad. In 1968 she took part in the Salon des Artistes Français at the Grand Palais in Paris and received the France-Afrique prize for her painting Village berbère (Berber Village, 1968). In 1969 she presented a selection of paintings and decorative calligraphies at Claudio Bruni’s Galleria La Medusa in Rome. In 1976 she received the silver medal from the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, once again on the occasion of the Salon des Artistes Français. Several of her works are kept in the collections of the Tunisian Ministry of Culture, the Galerie National in Rabat and the Museum of Art and Archaeology in Antananarivo.