Best known as a writer and poet, Tahar Ben Jelloun nonetheless has long proximity, if not intimacy, with painting. In his preface to the exhibition catalog, Ben Jelloun explains how his activity as a writer and painter became consubstantial with his equilibrium. “Each time, I explain how I go from writing about what I call “the pain of the world” to its “light”. I have often written about injustice, loneliness, and abandonment. But I needed to explore the other side of this dark universe. This is where painting, as I like it, manifested itself to me, like an old encounter, a friend lighting my way”. He added: “I started to paint to make people forget the dark side of the world that I was writing about”.
The paintings exhibited at Atelier 21, “painted in Morocco, under the Marrakech sun, with its superb light, its pure air, has something different from those made under the gray Parisian sky”, as Tahar Ben Jelloun describes it, exude all a sweet fairyland and communicate a retinal joy.
These paintings reflect the pleasure, the greedy happiness, of their painter. Around these canvases, the artist has inscribed phrases, often poetic flashes, which add to the pleasure of the eyes and the intensity of the words.