In Essaouira there is a lot of mediocre street art, but standing above the rest is the naïve art of Mostapha Assadeddine. Like many in the "outsider art" movement he avoids galleries, choosing rather to sell direct to the public
Naïve art is a classification of art that is often characterised by a childlike simplicity in its subject matter and technique. While many naïve artists appear, from their works, to have little or no formal art training, this is often not true.
Mostapha Assadeddine has shown his award winning work in Europe and is recognised by lovers of naïve art as highly collectable.
"I was born in 1957 in Casablanca,' Mostapha says, "I loved drawing when I was a child, but didn't begin painting until I was 38". He and now lives in Essaouira and since 1994 he has taken part in several group exhibitions in Morocco and Europe. In 2009 he won the major prize in Essaouira's "Festival de l’Etrange".
The trance, rituals and ceremonies of the Gnaoua brotherhoods are strongly represented in Assadeddine's work. His subjects are rarely solitary, but rather in completely identical pairs, which display an astonishing duality of body and soul.
The uniqueness of this artist is also in his technique: applying thousands of dots to the surface that then connect to form images. Infinite networks of intertwined paths are cleverly interwoven into characters whose shapes are only discovered little by little.The artist works with infinite patience in the pointillist style used in some indigenous cultures. It is work that is surreal, magical and deeply spiritual.
The works of Assadeddine have a relationship to the works of artists from the black diaspora transported across the Atlantic to the Caribbean islands and Haiti, where the painters of voodoo and macumba are, like him, inspired by the supernatural African traditions. Africa and trance are strongly represented in his work, with masks, lizards, snakes, chameleons and other ritualistic trance creations.
Assadeddine's subjects eyes are scattered like light bulbs that illuminate the compositions. An exotic bestiary is also represented in this work, with parrots, leopards, hippos and other indefinable zoomorphic creations. In addition, he chooses to insert images within images, sometimes overlapping and sometimes as an extravagant kind of puzzle.
Most of Assadeddine's work is acrylic on board. If you are visiting Essaouira you will normally find the artist in the main square. He usually has only a few works on display, but it is worth taking the time to chat with him about his work.