Essaouira naive art is known world-wide. The colourful style is reminiscent of aboriginal and outsider art from other cultures in Africa and on other continents. The Swiri artists are self-taught and many are principally employed in agriculture and fishing.
As I wrote in the Fodor’s Guide to Morocco, “The work of the naïve Souiri artists is frequently exhibited locally, and you can track down artists such as Abdelaziz Baki, Ali Maimoune, and Asmah Ennaji at their workshops in the joutiya, Essaouira’s flea market in the industrial quarter to the north of the medina. Here, their colorful work is displayed in two and three dimensions, often incorporating found objects or up-cycled items from the nearby market.”
This summer, Swiris and visitors will have a unique opportunity to see two exhibitions by local artist, Ben Ali (Abdelghani Didouh). The exhibitions are being held to raise funds for Essaouira-based charity Project 91, to establish a fund for the widows of fishermen lost at sea.
PRESS RELEASE: Essaouira, 20 June 2016
ESSAOUIRA TO HOST TWO CHARITY EXHIBITIONS BY ‘GENIUS’ SOUIRI ARTIST BEN ALI
Elizir and Mashi Mushki Galleries, in association with Sofitel Essaouira Mogador and Association Essaouira Mogador, are proud to present two solo exhibitions by Ben Ali (Abdelghani Didouh) – a Souiri artist recently described as a ‘genius’ by leading Italian art critic Corrado Levi.
BEN ALI: A RETROSPECTIVE (2006-2016) will take place at Sofitel Essaouira Mogador Golf & Spa from 15 July 2016 to 4 September 2016. The exhibition will span the artist’s career from 2006-2016 and will comprise 30 paintings and sculptures. Opening event: Sofitel Essaouira Mogador Golf & Spa, Domaine Mogador, Essaouira, Friday 15 July from 18.30h.
BEN ALI: AT SEA, featuring a selection of 20 new works, will be held at Dar Souiri (the home of Association Essaouira Mogador) from 26 August to 4 September 2016. Opening event: Association Essaouira Mogador, Dar Souiri, 10 Avenue du Caire, Essaouira, Friday 26 August from 18h.
The exhibitions will raise funds for Essaouira-based charity Project 91, to establish a fund for the widows of fishermen lost at sea in the town’s famous blue ‘flouka’ boats. The curators will donate their fees (20% of sale price) to the fund.
Ben Ali (Abdelghani Didouh, born 1966) has been working as an artist since the mid-2000s, in a small studio in the Joteya (junk market) of Essaouira’s crumbling industrial quarter. He chose his name out of respect for his father, the painter Ali – a major figure in the Essaouira art scene, whose challenging works presented graphic depictions of human sexuality.
After working for many years as a fisherman, Ben Ali took up painting when the sea stole his boat, his friends and one of his brothers. Since then, he has been creating strange, darkly colourful works on wood, canvas, furniture and other 3-D objects. The exhibitions will feature a selection of new and earlier pieces reflecting this wide variety of formats.
Ben Ali says he paints “because I am my father’s son” and because “for me, fishing and painting are the same”. “I continue the work of my father. In my paintings there are all the ghosts, that little by little appear on the canvas like the memories of a childhood dream.”
Italian art critic and long-time Moroccan resident Corrado Levi believes both Ben Ali and his father are artists of great distinction: “Geniuses are rare: to find two in one family is even rarer. Ali: the body and substance…Ben Ali: the spirit and transparency. Two geniuses.”
And for expert in contemporary art Michel Bohbot, Ben Ali’s world is “a human comedy…joyful, alive, sensual…anchored in the real.”
Mashi Mushki/ Elizir Paolo Barbieri email@example.com
06 48 90 82 14 / 06 41 75 37 05 (Morocco)
+44 780 371 1692 (UK)
For more information and photos:
Ben Ali www.facebook.com/benalidid
Project 91 www.facebook.com/project91essaouira
Mashi Mushki www.facebook.com/mashimushki