From 17 January to 3 March 2018 - Galerie Claude Lemand

  • Ben Bella, Carnaval.

    Carnaval, 2015. Oil on canvas, 146 x 114 cm. © Mahjoub Ben Bella. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.

  • Ben Bella, Samarkand.

    Samarkand, 2017. Oil on canvas, 162 x 130 cm. Private Collection. © Mahjoub Ben Bella. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.


The Sacred Fields of Ben Bella.
’ 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.’ (Jean-Louis Pinte).

The Dialogue of Signs and Colours.
’ For a very long time, Ben Bella’s creations were reduced to being qualified as an Arabic written form, yet his oeuvre only preserved the pictorial aspect, producing a rich artwork that descends both from Arabic calligraphy and European painting. Whether he focuses on the profusion of motifs or on the effects of his chromatic scale, Ben Bella creates a continuous and meticulous dialogue of signs and colours.’ (Mustapha Laribi).

Translated from French by Valérie Didier Hess.

Copyright © Galerie Claude Lemand 2012.

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