In conversation with self-taught Moroccan artist Salaheddine Assebbane.
Can you talk about your journey into or interest the arts?
I still remember that day I was in the second grade of primary school when I received a slap from the teacher because I was drawing in an Islamics class. Even at home, I was not allowed to draw publicly. My father was an Imam of a mosque and he would not let me draw on the grounds that it was forbidden and that I would enter hell. I drew my first painting in 2013 when I was 23 years old, because of the first love that left me to marry a rich man after a love story that lasted for more than 7 years, a painting in which I brought out all the negative energy that I felt. I had a dream to complete my studies at the Institute of Fine Arts, but family and economic conditions did not allow this. I completed my studies at the Faculty of Sociology, but I did not give up art, as it was inside me. After posting several paintings for the girl I loved, I decided to be different and create my own new style. The thing that made me introduce myself. I started to search for technical schools and the most important artists in each school. Then I fell in love with the Cubist school, in the painful life story of Van Gogh, in the amazing paintings of Salvador Dalí, and the defeat of Frida Kahlo, then in the artist Paul Gauguin. The thing that made me create a style that blends everything I fell in love with.
Do you use a sketchbook? I’m interested in what a sketchbook means to you and your work?, or how people develop their ideas?
Sociology University helped me to know that art is the medicine of the soul and that those ideas stuck in us must be brought out somehow. Each painting is initially an idea, and through my art style, I need to draw on Sketchbook natural bodies, then I transform them into geometric, and then I move to draw on canvas. Personally, I use sketchbook a lot to improve my skills to start over in case something goes wrong.
Your work focusses on the female form, often with abstracted qualities, can you talk about this and your influences?
The body of the woman was, and still is my inspiration. The nudity for me is nature. Our origin. In my opinion, whoever paints the body in clothes is like a painter who covers trees, mountains and the sun and draws nothing.
Can you talk about your process of working. How do you work, how often, is there a particular pattern?
My job that I live from is as an educator. Drawing is a hobby and psychotherapy for me. I only paint when I have an idea and try to give her time to turn it into a painting. In order to paint all I need is an empty place, quiet and coffee.
Do you find the process of creating work relaxing or therapeutic? I’ve become increasingly interested in the relationship of the sketchbook and the work to the artist.
As I said before, art for me is a psychotherapy and a hobby makes me flee from this world full of problems, beliefs, borders, races… to my imaginary world that reminds me I am a human before everything and I have respect each person on the planet how it was his religion, race, nationality… As for the relationship between sketchbook and artist, I will tell you a strange story that happened to me personally. In late 2018, someone called me on my Instagram account who wanted to buy a few paintings. He was the first customer to buy my artwork. I felt a beautiful and strange feeling that there is a person in this world who loves my artwork to the point of buying it, but at the same time I was hesitant so I always felt that each of my paintings is like a daughters. I told him let me think about it. That night I dreamed of a stranger, my sketchbook talks to me and tells me: I am the original, all your thoughts were created inside you and born inside me. You can sell your painting.