Yassine Balbzioui

To Moroccan artist Yassine Balbzioui an art exhibition is similar to a (carnival) parade on the street: the artist parades his works in front of an audience. In a parade carnival groups or beauty queens present themselves to the spectators. But at the same time they hide their true self. By being dressed up and/or wearing masks they play a role and they can also disappear within the group they are a part of.

This also applies to the figures in Balbziou´s works. Their faces are hidden by plastic bags, brush strokes, their own hands or animal like masks, examples are the work series Hiding (2011) or “The Fish” inside me. With the absence of a human face Balbzioui´s works become mirrors – as the spectator does not see a face he or she has to fall back on her/himself to be reflected. His works therefore express a dialectic between “showing” and “not showing” and force the audience to decide on how to interpret what they see and to question their own self-presentation and sincerity. The mask or rather “the hiding” represents the character we all seem to play, the façade we build ourselves. Much like in the theatrical world, the mask or any kind of disguise we put on alludes to our social ego, within family and society. The disguises of Balbzioui´s figures often seem grotesque or absurd – but for the artists the comical is a way to detach oneself from the “common body”.

Although many of Balbzioui´s have these aspects in common, it is important that his work series need to be perceived independent from each other. Apart from inviting spectators to reflect on what they are “hiding” he also processes the many impressions and experiences of his travels. The series „Jungle Spirit“ (2011) for example originated in Berlin. The city's open spaces as well as the foxes roaming around the houses evoke a feeling of nativeness and freedom in the artist which very much reminds him of his birthplace Morocco. Balbzioui is a nomad, who cannot stay at the same place for more than six months. After a while the subjects, the spaces he encounters bore him. Still it is important to him to continuously keep in contact with his surroundings. What defines Balbzioui´s biography therefore is being here and coming back again. To him, it sometimes is easier to understand things from a distance, for example he feels that he sometimes better comprehends Berlin when he is in Bordeaux and vice versa.

The work series Yassine Balbzioui is presenting in the exhibition PARADE are not necessarily telling stories of his travels or his life. The artist rather wants the audience to come up with their own stories and interpretations when they see his works. He gives the pieces to make a story of, but he does not make up the story himself, an example is the work series “Looking for the Lion” (2011) and “Lighting” (2011).