HYDERABAD: Walk into Kalakriti Art Gallery, Banjara Hills and you will be greeted by Moroccan artist Yassine Balbzioui’s solo exhibition Ethopia. His paintings depict figures in nondescript locations, and their faces replaced by objects, animals and birds, which tell stories or scenes based on characteristics of animals.
For Yassine, who picked up paints, pallet and brushes at the age of seven, art comes naturally. “For me art is life and when I look around there is inspiration everywhere,” says the 42-year-old artist. Quiz him on what inspired this exhibition, Yassine says, “The inspiration behind it are the cartoons that I used to watch during my childhood.” However, his foray into paintings with animals is relatively new.
The week-long exhibition that concluded yesterday showcased six oil paintings, nine water colours, and four video presentations. The oil paintings and water colours were made during the artist’s one month residency programme period at Kalakriti.
It is hard to miss the human face in the Moroccan artist’s work, the paintings depicting humans with face of butterflies, chameleon, fish and frog. Animals and humans have played an vital role in his ominous work that pose questions rather than provide answers.
Revealing the mystery behind the human-funa depiction, Yassine says, “I started depicting the masked man in my work a few years ago. Many animals and humans share similar characteristics and so I showcase the animals which fit best in given the situation.”
What caught everyone’s attention was a painting ‘Good students go to heaven’, which had six boys, wearing school uniforms and holding school bags. “Though this, canvas looks like a scene from a movie, the idea here is is to show the future education scenario,” he explains.
Yassine’s series of nine water colour paintings have an Indian connect too. They are based on Panchatantra tales. “Since a few of tales are told through two jackals Karataka and Damanaka, my water colour works portray them in various situations,” says Yassine.
He asserts that art is for people to see and enjoy. It should, therefore, reach every common man and we agree.
Yassine recalls when he took his work to Senegal, back in 2012, for a performance titled ‘Le Voyage De Twin Freaks,’ There his paintings were taken around the city, through the market place, displayed on the pavements and finally at the beach, where the students playing football were asked to hit the ball at it. “This was a memorable experience,” says Yassine.
The artist’s work is the reflection of his immediate surroundings – with every art piece telling a story – reflecting an amalgamation of time and space.
So what’s next for the artist? “It’s cooking!” No he is not going to replace his brush with a spatula. “The theme of my next exhibition will based on cookery and kitchen appliances,” he says.