Moroccan artist’s exhibition depicts his life’s experiences

Mo Baala sees with a keen eye what we would like to hide from him. He touches everything, of course.
Sunday 16/02/2020
A painting on display at Mo Baala’s solo exhibition “Beginnings." (Saad Guerraoui)
A different universe. A painting on display at Mo Baala’s solo exhibition “Beginnings.” (Saad Guerraoui)

CASABLANCA - Colourful paintings and sculptures by Moroccan artist Mo Baala in his solo exhibition “Beginnings” depicting his life experiences are on display at Galerie d’art L’Atelier 21 in Casablanca.

At “Beginnings,” which runs through March 16, Baala’s recent works showcase an array of talents with roots in the traditional arts and crafts of Morocco, Africa and elsewhere. His passions for reading, cinema, music and philosophy fuel his creative universe. Essential encounters and the internet also played a crucial role.

“The exhibition is inspired by the simple question that people keep asking me: When did you start arts?” Baala said. “I always find it difficult to answer their question because when one remembers a beginning, he understands later that he forgot another beginning.”

Baala never specialised in any artistic form. He went from drawing to painting, using collages, sculpture and graffiti.

“Baala’s paintings are amazing. He seems to be mixing the colours quite well besides the drawn characters that take you to a different universe,” said Yassine, a 44-year-old engineer. “The most captivating painting is the one that depicts his life story in English writing.”

Baala’s sculptures are no coincidence because of the abundance of limestone in Taroudant where he grew up.

“We have some of Morocco’s best limestone craftsmen in Taroudant. I grew up among some of them and enjoyed watching them carve the limestone,” Baala said.

The self-taught artist has a sixth sense that crowns all the others but he deflects the image.

“A self-taught artist is just a connotation,” he said. “To teach yourself arts is impossible because we enter in a collaboration with our friends, family, architecture, the components we have been interacting with since our childhood.

“All these components teach you arts. I think the most important thing that you can learn in arts is to learn how to observe and value your entourage.”

Baala sees with a keen eye what we would like to hide from him. He touches everything, of course. He hears unknown languages ​​and sounds unheard of by traditional musicians and exhilarates the aromas of saffron spices and peppermint.

He also creates installations hosting his musical performances and explores the photographic medium, street art and action painting.

Recycling, textiles, music and lyricism have a primordial place in his creations. He paints on all the supports that come to hand, whether they are sewing patterns or pieces of cardboard.

In May 2018, Baala had a solo exhibition titled “Be Your Heart” in Marrakech. The show was at the crossroads between poetry and the visual arts where Baala took viewers on a poetic journey and unveiled his inner world through the expressiveness of the forms and dreamlike characters he created.

Born in 1986 in Casablanca, the Marrakech-based artist moved to Taroudant when he was 5 years old and there he discovered the world of the souks, the profusion of materials and colours of which he used as a source of creativity.