Raja Battaoui – Casablanca
Ahlam Lmsafar has a long history with visual art. The Moroccan artist graduated in fine art with an inclination towards abstract art, and got her professional training in France and the US. She was awarded by a French art academy, and was chosen to participate among the world's elite plastic artists, representing Morocco in an international drawing conference held in Egypt.
Arabstoday had an interview with Lmsafar about her experience, her career and the state of plastic art in Morocco:
AT: When did you first get interested in visual arts?
AL: I adored drawing since I was a child, and when my father recognised my inner talent, he insisted on improving it through studying. So I went to a fine arts institute and I closely studied the world of colour. The most prominent phase in my artistic life was 2007, when I held my first exhibition in the Bab el-Rawah hall which was a great turning point in my life. I displayed unprecedented works that generally represented the dynamics of the soul and hand, capturing all movement and vibration of reality. In 2008, as a new start to my artistic projects, I was awarded by the French academy for art, literature, and science.
AT: Do you think you were able to capture Moroccan life, while defending crucial issues?
AL: Everyone has certain aspects of their life they want to express, so the artist has more feelings and yearn to have a better future. The plastic artist can express their feelings but in an indirect way, they are not trying to make their creations only reflect life. They pain reality coupled with their artistic imagination, where beauty meets life. Paints have a strong power of colour.
AT: You have a lot of experience in the art world, what attracts the viewer to gaze at a picture for a long time?
AL: From my field experience I know well that it's difficult for any visual artist to make everything attractive in their picture or satisfy everybody. People are different, someone may like some thing that others don’t like, but in my artistic works I am always keen on satisfying the smart viewer who knows the hidden art. These kind of people are my audience, I consider their acceptance and admiration of my work as a standard for measuring my success.
AT: What school of art do you follow?
AL: The Picasso and Matisse schools
AT: Do you have special rituals you practice before you start drawing?
AL: I want to mention one important thing, painting has several stages before it finishes...I can't finish a drawing in one hour. It may take days sometimes, even months. My pre-drawing rituals include yoga, which helps me relax and have a clear mind. This is essential as I believe that mental disturbances make it impossible to create a beautiful different art. The start of any painting is always the most difficult, but when I hold my brush and organise my ideas, I find colours leading me to my expression.
AT: How do you express your status as an artist in your work?
AL: I feel this artistic status when I experience extreme feelings of happiness or sadness. At these moments I just need my brush with me, and I feel the drawing devil calling out to me so I respond by stepping out into my small gallery and escape to another world by painting.
AT: What message are you sending through your paintings?
AL: An artist is a messenger of peace, and I stand by that. I will always try and express love, sense, and harmony. I don’t care if my paintings are sold with high price tags but I care how much viewer reacts to my works, understanding its meaning and expressiom, announcing at every moment that life is about creation and love, so we shouldn’t turn it away for sadness.
AT: How do you perceive the future of visual art in Morocco?
AL: It has begun progressing in Morocco, at first you could count the number of Moroccan artists on one hand, now there are a lot more. More people are being drawn to fine art, choosing paintings to decorate their homes. If art becomes a central part of Moroccan interests, it would be beautiful.
AT: Are you satisfied with all your paintings?
AL: Definitely not all of them, as some of them I finished quite rapidly, and the results did not satisfy me. Others, I made in a good mood and I enjoyed them before I even finished them. Your state of mind is always reflected on what you do.