The Medina of Essaouira seems to swallow people up when they’re exploring the twists and turns of its colorful sidestreets, alleyways, and squares. The walled old town has walkable ramparts with ocean views and “imposing 18th- and 19th-century gates (aka babs in Arabic), including Bab Marrakech, Bab Sba, Bab Doukkala, and Bab El Marsa“.
Main squares include Moulay Hassan, named after Sultan of Morocco, Hassan ben Mohammed, and arcaded Marché aux Grains (Grain Market). The walkways are lined with “al fresco cafés, indie art galleries, eateries, shops selling rugs, spices, and ceramics, hammams, and inexpensive riad hotels – interesting traditional houses built around inner courtyard gardens”. I’m sure to visit one of the hammams for a revitalizing soak.
The Medina mesmerizes me! I’m still learning how to get around and constantly getting lost. There’s so much to see and experience! I’ve met a few artists and merchants and found them to be friendly and open. It’s a vast change from Croatia, so it will take a few days to acclimate – not there yet.
Today, I stumbled on a small art gallery featuring the works of two Moroccan artists – Mostafa Assadeddine and Mohammed Bouafia. I’ve attached photos of their work and brief info about them. The art wasn’t captioned.
“Essaouira is an exceptional example of a late-18th-century fortified town, built according to the principles of contemporary European military architecture in a North African context.” UNESCO
Artist Mostafa Assadeddine
Mostafa Assadeddine’s primitive African art is special. He was born in Casablanca but lives and works in Essaouira. He’s had several collective exhibitions in Morocco and France. He’s won prizes at Essaouira’s Festival de l’Etrange.
“The trance, the rites, and the ceremonies of the Gnawa brotherhoods – descendants of African slaves – are strongly represented in the work of Assadeddine. The characters are rarely solitary, most often in completely identical couples, astonishing duality, body and soul.” lesgrigrisdesophie.blogspot
Assadeddine “works with patience, covering the surface of his paintings with an infinity of points reminiscent of the pointillism used in certain primitive cultures, such as the aborigines”. His art is “related to the works of artists from the black diaspora transported across the Atlantic to the Caribbean Islands and Haiti, where voodoo and macumba painters are, like him, inspired by African traditions and the supernatural”.
Artist Mohammed Bouafia
Mohammed Bouafia’s beautiful paintings capture “scenes linked to the seaside city of Essaouira – aka City of the Trade Winds”. He was born in the small town of El Kelâa Sraghna in central Morocco, but has lived and worked in Essaouira since 1999.
Bouafia has participated in exhibitions in Morocco and abroad. His beautiful work illustrates an understandable fascination with Essaouira’s colors, shapes, and variety of human elements”. Bouafia’s technique is “knife painting, with which he mainly represents landscapes reminding him of his childhood in Marrakech”.
“Bouafia’s pictorial work is of undeniable visual beauty. It oscillates between shadow and light, relying on the complementarity of colours, lines, and lively touches treated with a spatula.” vosartistes.com
Each day, I’m learning more about Essaouira and the people who live here – a fascinating place to unravel!