Wednesday, January 22, 2014

84. Dar Bellarj Gallery

Another day and another wander into the maze of the Medina ... I have worked out during my six months of travelling, that one of the best tricks is to get lost, and in so doing you generally stumble onto or into a place that you had not intended to go, and usually discover a delight. And so it was today ...

Having absolutely no idea where I was - and the sun going behind a cloud was no help to me - I pressed on along a narrow laneway and found an open door showing the symbol of a stork's head ... and the bright scene inside drew me in ...



Here I walked into the Dar Bellarj Gallery ... this bright building was formally a hospital for storks (birds). ( ... In Moroccan culture the stork is considered a sacred bird and is the symbol associated with strength prosperity and love. If a stork builds its nest on the roof of your house, your household with enjoy good luck, and Berbers believe that storks are humans turned into birds. It is a punishable offence in Morocco to harm a stork of its nest ... ). 

This building is now a commercial exhibition gallery - its tall white walls framed by white pillars create an almost dazzling change from the dirty narrow laneway outside. And on exhibition here was an excellent show of artworks by French artist - now Moroccan living - Stephane Braud.


Around this now brilliantly sun drenched courtyard are four gallery spaces - each with Stephane's works on show.


The first gallery was a series of paintings on the theme of rusty paint tins. You might think 'not the most inspiring topic', but I found these paintings quite special.


Pot #1 - mixed media - E2500 ( about A$4000 )

Pot #4

Istallation of 9 Pots - E9500 ( A$14,000)

Pot #3


Back out into the courtyard the other two galleries were also showing Stephane's work - but unfortunately my camera decided to play up and I can't show you any images ...


... but then in through a narrow doorway ...


... and down a flight of stairs into a subterranian chamber 
 for another gallery showing his works ...


Stephane is a very keen scuba diver and likes to paint underwater !!! ... so he takes his canvas and oil paints ( that don't mix with water ) down into the depths ( sometimes up to 46 meters ) and sets himself up and with a palet knife creates these very interesting artworks. Once the scene has been captured he surfaces and finishes the paintings in his studio ... what a way to go ...

Grotte de Coail Rose, Ile Maurice - 46m underwater - E8000 (A$12,000)

Half Moon Caye, Belize - 27m underwater - E5500 (A$8500)


Jardin Subaquatique, Half Moon Caye Belize - 27m - E4000 (A$6100) 



... up another flight and back out into the courtyard ...


Here in another gallery I watched a 30minute documentary film about his method of painting underwater - quite fascinating.

Stephane was here at the gallery and I was able to have an interesting chat to him ( in his broken English and my appaling French ... ) all about his work. I asked him 'wouldn't it be easier just to take a photo and paint from that ?' ... his reply was ... 'that to paint he needs to feel in the mood and underwater it is ectasy and he has no problem with a blank canvas'. Many an artist dreams about the joy of not having to stare uninspired at a blank canvas - he is a lucky man.


This unexpected encounter with an artist and his work in a beautiful bright gallery made for a very up-lifting time away from the chaos of the Medina.

A visit to a Maroccan palace next ...