Off the Tala Kebira is a small studio filled with vivid oil paintings of Fez. They are the result of a year and a half's work by local painter Abderrahim El Hassani. He has been preparing for an exhibition, Nostalgie, which opens this Friday at Galerie Mohammed Kassimi.
|Abderrahim El Hassani|
"Painting is my life," says Abderrahim. "It makes me happy to do it."
Born in Fez in 1976, he started painting professionally five years ago. "I studied with Mohammed Achab Ghyati in the Ville Nouvelle for four years," he says. "The city of Fez is my source of inspiration. There is so much colour here."
All of the 28 paintings in the Nostalgie exhibition are views and details of the Medina. These range from representational still-lifes, to street scenes and more impressionistic portraits of people. Alongside more traditional subject matter are a couple of paintings of feet - a subject which fascinates Abderrahim. "Feet are the basis of a person's power," he says. "Without your feet, it is very difficult to live." This is especially true in the pedestrian oriented Medina.
The paintings in the exhibition range in price from 1,000 dirhams each, for a djellaba clad man, through to the magnificent centrepiece of the exhibition, a large close up of the zelij tiles and tap of a public wall fountain. The result of several months work, Abderrahim hopes to sell this for 8,000 dirhams.
In the future Abderrahim would like the opportunity to work further afield. "There is not such a big painting scene in Fez, as the focus is on traditional artisans. Perhaps one day I will be able to work overseas."
Nostalgie is a joint exhibition with painter Brahmi Abdellah. It runs from October 7-21 at Galerie Mohammed Kacimi, 26 Avenue Moulay Youssef, Ville Nouvelle, Fez.
Photographs: Suzanna Clarke. Click images to enlarge