From 26 September to 31 October 2015 - Galerie Claude Lemand

  • Ben Bella, Indian.

    Indian, 2006. Oil on canvas, 146 x 114 cm. © Mahjoub Ben Bella. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.


Jean-Louis Pinte.
The most dis­tinc­tive aspect of his painting is his rep­e­ti­tion of a par­tic­ular sign or pat­tern, and how this sign or pat­tern res­onates like a mag­ical song. However, Ben Bella does not illus­trate nor does he fol­lows the illus­tra­tive steps of an ordi­nary Arabic cal­lig­raphy. Instead, he simply extracts from it a musi­cality that is given life through both his lines and colours. This even­tu­ally forms a music score that per­me­ates throughout the painting, the sounds of which pul­sate and vibrate across the art­work’s sur­face. Whilst he neglects the silence of a monochrome sur­face, he gen­er­ously covers his canvas with an abun­dance of qua­vers and other notes that dif­fuse the melody across the painting, trans­porting it towards a syn­co­pated and linear abstrac­tion. On some occa­sions, Ben Bella sur­passes this simple tonality and tries to carry the viewer away into life’s rustle and into its quiv­ering land­scapes. In the north of France, Ben Bella is renowned for the fres­coes he pro­duced along the roads, dec­o­rating more than 12 kilo­me­ters of cob­ble­stone with his signs and pat­terns. In his canvas paint­ings, he cre­ates sacred fields, the fur­rows of which lead the viewer to tran­scend the simple lyri­cism. It seems that he allows him­self to be taken over by the ver­tigo of writing up until ecstasy, thus becoming the bard of a book of prayers cel­e­brating the glory of art.

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