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  • Writer's pictureZoltan Alexander

nº52 / 1:54 MARRAKESH 2020 / PART-III

What is inside La Mamounia? Interviews, reviews and the most prominent artists, art galleries of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair Marrakesh 2020. The third and last part of our journey.

Review by Zoltan Alexander



Interviews and featured galleries, artists by Zoltan Alexander

Interview with Xander Pratt (Marrakesh/Accra) at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group Marrakesh, filmed at The Source Marrakesh

Followed by Jean-David Nkot (Douala) and Florian Azzopardi at Afikaris (Paris), Yagor Yahaut at LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery (Abidjan), Mounir Fatmi at Goodman Gallery (London, Johannesburg, Cape Town), Fabrice Monteiro (Dakar), Malick Sidibé (Paris) and Omar Victor Diop (Dakar) at Galerie Magnin-A (Paris), Lakin Ogunbanwo at Whatiftheworld Gallery (Cape Town, Johannesburg), Youssef Nabil at Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, Bruxelles), Quattara Watts at Galerie Cecile Fakhoury (Abidjan, Dakar, Paris), Prince Gyasi (Accra) at Galerie Nil (Paris) and Artsi Ifrach of ARTSIMOUS at Maison ARTC (Marrakesh)

Other artists and galleries are featured in PART I. and PART II.

1:54 Marrakesh 2020 / © video by Zoltan Alexander ZOLTAN+MEDIA


The biggest fear is to be who you are” as Artsi Ifrach of Maison ARTC once put it during our many telephone conversations. His words are still echoing as I am entering the third month lockdown in London. In this slow-mo procedure I just realised that I keep coming back to my long-finished article changing words and images, probably trying not to finish it, not wanting to let it go, just treasuring my last virus-free journey for another day.


Who thought that it would have such an impact and inspiration? Who could have imagined in February that the entire world would shut down, that the New York edition of 1:54 would be cancelled or the London edition in October would still remain in question? Whatever happens next, one thing is certain, Marrakesh remains a wildly respected international art hub, thanks to founder Touria El Glaoui of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. The annual event is unquestionably a diverse and vibrant international art fair portraying the multitude of contemporary art and artists of Africa and its diaspora.

In PART I. and PART II. I visited many satellite exhibitions throughout Marrakesh, in PART III. I will be focusing on artists and galleries exhibited at La Mamounia with two exceptions; the inspirational Artsi Ifrach of Maison ARTC and musician Xander Pratt from Accra, who invited me for private walk in his heavenly garden in Marrakesh.

La Mamounia - Courtyard / Photo © Courtesy of ZOLTAN+MEDIA
La Mamounia / Photo © Courtesy of ZOLTAN+MEDIA

1:54 is traditionally held at La Mamounia palace, a jewel of Arab-Andalusian architecture, renovated by Jacques Garcia, and widely spread via satellite exhibitions throughout the city.

In 2020, the third edition of the Art Fair started days before its public opening with preview days and private dinners allowing art collectors, curators and journalists to meet and engage in a conversation with exhibiting artists and galleries. Unlike other art fairs - maybe due to its size - in Marrakesh everyone talks to the other, the interaction is extraordinary and the mood is very relaxed. Marrakesh offers a full scene mixing a strong spirit of celebration and elegance, very different from London or New York.

Nathalie Yacob / La Mamounia

Jack Lang / Photo © Courtesy of ZOLTAN+MEDIA

For the opening ceremony, friends and professionals flew in from the four corners of the world, many from Africa, London, Paris and New York including:

Gallery director Jay Joplin, White Cube (London), collector/entrepreneur Vanessa Branson (London), former French Cultural Minister Jack Lang (Paris), actress Nathalie Yacob (Vienna), designer Fadila el Gadi (Marrakesh), musician Xander Pratt (Accra), writer Talima Taha (New York) and director of Musée YSL Madison Cox (Tangier, New York).

Marrakesh is a gem and many Europeans have already moved here to enjoy its rich culture and beautiful people, among them photographer Serge Lutens, Paloma Picasso, politician Jack Lang and Stanley Kubrick's beloved actress Marisa Berenson who just a few days back celebrated her birthday in her recently finished sumptuous villa of a Thousand and One Nights at La Palmeraie.

Marisa Berenson

At La Palmeraie, there is also a hidden palace, the Hotel Mandarin Oriental, where musician Xander Pratt exhibited his photographic series the “Essence of Africa”.

Xander Pratt


A solo exhibition presenting the works of Xander Pratt.

Just like artist, photographer Prince Gyasi, Pratt comes from Accra, Ghana, he grew up in Zimbabwe and he is currently living and working in Marrakesh.

Pratt explored and evolved his artistic career in Australia and subsequently moved to Morocco to further progress his artistic ideas and inspire the youth through captivating visual projects. Pratt is a brand himself combining music, fashion and art. The philosophy behind his style and expression is based on creating a bond between imagination and reality, showing that it's not our bodies and skin that make us different from each other, it's our mind that sets us apart.

His spirit gave birth to the idea of “Essence of Africa”, a photographic series of portraying himself in perfect harmony and synchronicity with nature. The Hotel Mandarin Oriental ensured full access to Pratt for the project, he formed a creative collaboration with photographer Youness Hamiddine and fused his ideas into the architecture and the hotel’s magic garden.

“Essence of Africa” is the essence of being; the divine truth that connects all that is: a true journey through introspection. We are separated by light, colour and perception. It is a calling: a calling back to self, back to the source. Within this source, we harness the ability to control circumstance. There can be no power without humility, as there can be no humility without understanding.”

Multicolor” - one of his photographic images - for me represents the fusion of Human Essence, the harmony and synchronicity of a unified purpose. Accepting cultures, religions, race, and all tools that have previously been used to mute the symphony of humanity. The deeper we go, the higher we rise.”

Xander Pratt / Photo © Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
Xander Pratt / Photo © Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

“Gold” - another exhibited work - represents Strength and Perseverance, the ability to wear resilience as an armour, paving a path forward even within the darkest places. Remembering not to forget the light that enables us to break free from a keyless lock and all the invisible chains that attempt to hold us back from our inherent desire to progress.”

“Each image represents alternate parts within sacred states in us all: an energy that lays dormant, waiting to erupt into its true nature. The essence cannot be touched or heard, but felt through the valleys that unify the energy of these twelve images. In essence, connection to the roots is vital to keep the tree growing.”


Zoltan Alexander talks to musician Xander Pratt in Marrakesh about his latest photographic installation of the “Essence of Africa”, exhibited at the Hotel Mandarin Oriental.

They spent an afternoon together, wondering around the magic garden of The Source Marrakesh, talking about life, art, supporting mothers and the unpredictable future. As a surprise, Xander Pratt performed a song from his upcoming album before Cecila Bartoli took over. The Faun was awakened in Marrakesh.

Duration: 20min40"

Director: Zoltan Alexander

Featured Artist: Xander Pratt / Marrakesh

Language: English

· 1st UNIT / interview

Location: The Source, Marrakesh

Camera: Tarik Mounim

Camera: Xander Pratt

· 2nd UNIT / music video

Location: The Medina, Marrakesh

Camera: Badr Dean

Music: Xander Pratt

· 3rd UNIT / still photography

Location: Hotel Mandarin Oriental Marrakesh

Photographer: Youness Hamiddine

Art Director: Xander Pratt

Assistant Lighting: Yuru Light of Tar Tar Colors

Designers: Jamila Diani, The Moroccans

Photographic Archives: Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group


Post-production & Video Editor: Mr Skok of George Smoog

Sound Editor: Mr Skok of George Smoog

Music (intro casino-mix): Zoltan Alexander

Music (live performance) & (music video): Xander Pratt

Music (Mozart / Laudate Dominum): Cecilia Bartoli

Music Arrangement: ZOLTAN+MEDIA London

Resolution: HD full screen

Production: © ZOLTAN+MEDIA London


I started the following day with a breakfast meeting, organised by 1:54 for the press and VIP, in the sumptuous garden of La Mamounia under the shades of palm trees. It is always a great place to meet artists and friends. When my guest arrived we entered the dedicated wing to visit the Art Fair and this is what we found.

Jean-David Nkot / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie AFIKARIS


A solo exhibition presenting the works of Jean-David Nkot.

Our first-choice was AFIKARIS, a Paris-based gallery under the direction of Florian Azzopardi, a new name to remember on the map of contemporary art. Son of an antique seller, Azzopardi grew up in the art world and started working as a consultant for an African e-commerce company. He travelled around to discover emerging artists mostly in Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Ivory Coast and Morocco and ended up collecting their works. In 2018, he decided to conciliate his passion for art and Africa and launched AFIKARIS.

His vision to become a reference gallery for contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora came true. AFIKARIS focuses on supporting artists who live on the continent both well-established and not yet discovered. The gallery, which operates online and from its private gallery space in Paris (by appointment only), is active all around the world due to international art fairs and travelling exhibitions. Later this year, Jean David Nkot's work will be presented at 1:54 New York and 1:54 London in October.

Jean David Nkot is a promising new artist from Douala, Cameroon. He has already shown his work at 1:54 London, at AKAA in Paris but in Marrakesh, it is his first time. The "Moving Frontiers" program has been an important evolution of his work opening the doors to one of the most important residences of his career at La Cité Internationale des Arts. It gave birth to his project "The undesirables" followed by a new series "The Shadows of Space" is currently showing in Marrakech asking the question of the identity of the person in exile.

Jean-David Nkot / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie AFIKARIS

Knot paints from photographs of people in his neighbourhood. "For me, working from a photo gives me the possibility of continuing to observe my subjects, long after their departure because it is the only way I could still have a connection with them. The photo sessions result from long discussions in groups or in private. It is in these moments of intimacy and sharing when everyone talks about their dreams, their projects, what they want to do or how much they would like to travel to Europe although these trips have not always turned up as they have imagined."

In his pictures, Knot employs two very different styles. In his figurative paintings, he portrays young workers on a cartographic background wearing a construction helmet, a safety vest on the background map. His large figurative paintings are linked to the smaller format paintings, bordering on an abstraction of an imaginary city covering portraits of young workers attempting trans-African migration.

Jean-David Nkot / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie AFIKARIS

Tormented by the universal spectacle of human cruelty, Nkot is committed to denouncing the apathy of the governments towards the victims of migration and puts his focus on the impacts of violence, indifference and passivity on the part of the international community and governments on migration victims around the world. Nkot's work pays homage to the unrecordable, forgotten fatalities of mass migration and subsequently highlights the deleterious effect of rapid colonial nation-building. Knot does not only map the landscapes of human displacement but also critiques systematic societal cruelty.

"The series of "The Shadows of Space" is a personal work through my personal experience. My visa has been refused many times then I realized that I would achieve more in my country. If I stay there, I will keep my individuality, my authenticity. I met many people who went to another country and reached the end of their journey. These people had no papers, no home anymore, their dream has collapsed, and the reality turned out to be quite different and violent."

Jean-David Nkot

"Before being an artist, I am a human being who lives in a society, in a space in a changing world. Thus, transformation is a subject that speaks to me and concerns me. I want things to change and I need to talk about them, make the problems visible and create dialogues. Art offers us this possibility, both ideological and aesthetic, to say things that speak to everyone, and that is the core of my artistic practice. As an artist, I would like to immortalize these changes so everyone will be conscious of what happened during this period."

Jean David Nkot is definitely a determent artist and a rising star.

"Propaganda 02" by Mounir Fatmi / Photo © Courtesy of Goodman Gallery

GOODMAN GALLERY / London Johannesburg Cape Town

A solo exhibition presenting the works of Mounir Fatmi.

Goodman Gallery is a powerful contemporary art gallery and certainly the most known in the African continent with locations in Johannesburg, Cape Town and recently in London. The gallery represents artists whose work confronts entrenched power structures and inspires social change. Goodman Gallery has been pivotal in shaping contemporary South African art, bringing Shirin Neshat, David Goldblatt, William Kentridge, David Koloane, Sam Nhlengethwa and Sue Williamson to the world's attention for the first time and for 1:54 Marrakesh the gallery exhibited the work of Mounir Fatmi. Since Liza Essers became owner and director in 2008, the gallery roster has grown by over 30 international artists, with a focus on women from the African diaspora and beyond.

Mounir Fatmi's work speaks to our interest in unpacking preconceived notions around cultural and geographic divides. Fatmi questions the limits of memory, language and communication while reflecting on obsolescent materials, such as VHS tapes, typewriters and antenna cables, and their unknown future addressing topics such as culture, globalization and religion. He has applied prayer rugs to skateboards to symbolize the similarities between skating and religion, seeking transcendence. It's about freedom and escaping reality. "In the absence of evidence to the contrary" Mounir uses neon tubes to imprint a temporary image in the eyes of the viewer. When you look away the written text will appear in your sight for a few seconds before it fades away.

Mounir Fatmi

Mounir Fatmi elaborates experimental archaeology that questions the world and the role of the artist in a society in crisis, and questions the limits of memory, language and communication while reflecting upon these obsolescent materials and their uncertain future. The work-results lead us to question the transmission of knowledge and to criticise the illusory mechanisms that bind us to technology and ideologies. Fatmi's work offers a look at the world from a different glance, refusing to be blinded by convention.

Fatmi was born in Tangiers, Morocco, and lives and works between Paris, Lille and Tangier. Fatmi travelled to Rome where he studied at the Academy of Arts, and then at the Casablanca Art School, and finally at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. He spent most of his childhood at the flea market of Casabarata of Tangiers. The artist now considers this childhood to have been his first form of artistic education and compares the flea market to a museum in ruin. This vision also serves as a metaphor and expresses the essential aspects of his work.

"The Blind Man" by Mounir Fatmi / Photo © Courtesy of Goodman Gallery

"I have the feeling that I have always wanted to be an artist. At the age of four, I said that I wanted to become a painter. It was as if I had been programmed to do so. There was no alternative. At the age of 17, I met Paul Bowles in Tangier, and at 29, I made a film with him called "Fragments and Solitude". These were the last images of his life as if we had unconsciously filmed his death. The Beat Generation saved me: Paul Bowles, reading Burroughs, Brion Gysin. They gave me another vision of life. I was born in Tangier in the Casabarata neighbourhood, which means "the cheapest house". We lived next to the flea market, producing a lot of waste, and that is where I saw a reproduction of Mona Lisa for the first time, upside-down being eaten by a sheep. The vision, it might be confusing perhaps, but that is what gave me the desire to do what I do today." Mounir Fatmi

His installations have been selected for the Venice Biennial several times. "Ceux qui savent et Ceux qui ne savent pas" with white antenna cables and fastener pins is already estimated $1.000.000 at Christie's.

Malick Sidibé / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie MAGNIN-A

MAGNIN-A / Paris

A group exhibition presenting the works of Belgian-Beninese photographer Fabrice Monteiro.

In 2009, André Magnin founded MAGNIN-A in Paris as a way of further developing artists' careers and participating in the contemporary African art market. MAGNIN-A represents many established artists along with young and emerging artists from across the continent including Malick Sidibé and Omar Victor Diop.

Magnin started his research in contemporary art in non-western cultures for the seminal exhibition "Magiciens de la Terre" at the Centre Pompidou and the Grande Halle de la Villette in 1989, as assistant curator. Until 2009, he constituted the Pigozzi Collection, one of the largest private collections of contemporary African art. As a specialist in the field, Magnin has published many books and articles and continues to curate exhibitions alongside his commercial activities.

Fabrice Monteiro

Fabrice Monteiro was born in Belgium and currently lives and works in Dakar, Senegal. Monteiro is an Agouda, descendant of Brazilian slaves with Portuguese names. Son of a Beninese father and a Belgian mother, he grew up in Benin. After studying industrial engineering, he began travelling around the world and discovering the photographic medium. In 2007 he met the New York photographer Alfonse Pagano and developed his photo studio skills. Passed behind the camera, Fabrice Monteiro's photos are at the intersection of photojournalism, fashion photography and the painting.

Monteiro's faith in youth as key factors of future change drove him to incorporate elements of traditional storytelling, magic, and mysticism into his symbolically charged frames, hoping that by connecting art, culture and politics, a sense of awareness and collective ethical concern will be ignited.

"The diversity of my cultures of origin is my first source of inspiration. Relations between Africa and Europe have constantly wavered between attraction and rejection, empowerment and denial, recognition and anger. They have never been indifferent. The history of the African-European peoples of the last centuries, whose complexity I have inherited down to my genes, guides all of my artistic choices and gives me a singular look at the experience." Fabrice Monteiro

Fabrice Monteiro / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie MAGNIN-A
Fabrice Monteiro / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie MAGNIN-A

Monteiro makes the portrait his favourite medium and addresses in his series a strong problem linked to the African continent which he approaches through the prism of identity. His latest work "8 Mile Wall" explores the stereotypes that developed during the period of slavery and the colonial era. The series is inspired by a conversation he had, as a child with his father when he realized that, as a black man, the only way to be treated with respect and consideration in Europe at the era was to wear a three-piece suit. He deconstructs these automatic thoughts created by aesthetic details, whether costumes or accessories.

"The western world has lost touch with its roots, its traditions, its culture, and the sense of connection that ties it to nature. We live in this hyper-consumerist system and greedy society where profit comes first, and the links to our origins and the ancestral source of life are slowly being dispersed. While making this work, I was rebuilding the strength of that link."

Fabrice Monteiro

Before I said good-bye to the gallery director Philippe Boutte, I wanted to bring the attention to two of his artists: Malick Sidibé and Omar Victor Diop.

Malick Sidibé / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie MAGNIN-A
Malick Sidibé / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie MAGNIN-A
Malick Sidibé / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie MAGNIN-A

MALICK SIDIBÉ / Soloba - Paris

Malick Sidibé was born in 1935 in Soloba, to a Fulani family in a small village in Mali. Noted for his drawing skills, he was admitted to the School of Sudanese Artisans in Bamako. He took his first steps in photography with "Gégé la Pellicule" and opened the Studio Malick in 1962, in the heart of Bamako. He is involved in the cultural and social life of the capital, which has been booming since Independence. Become an inescapable figure very appreciated by the youth, Malick Sidibé is present in all the evenings where the young people discover the dance come from Europe and Cuba, dress in Western fashion and compete in elegance.

Malick Sidibé (1935-2016), was awarded the Hasselblad Prize in 2003 and received a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2007, the first African artist to obtain these two prestigious awards.

Omar Victor Diop / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie MAGNIN-A


Self-taught Senegalese photographer Omar Victor Diop uses photography, styling and scenography to transcribe the history, modernity of African societies and their lifestyles. In his first series "Futur du beau", Diop diverts consumer goods and waste to clothe his models while questioning the standards of beauty and elegance followed by the "Studio des Vanités", which portrayed a creative, ambitious and urban African generation. He was inspired by the great historic African photographers Mama Casset, Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé, as well as the famous French artist-designer Jean-Paul Goude.

Lakin Ogunbanwo / Photo © Courtesy of WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery

WHATIFTHEWORLD / Cape Town Johannesburg

A group exhibition presenting the works of Lakin Ogunbanwo.

Founded in 2008, WHATIFTHEWORLD is a contemporary art gallery recognised both within South Africa and internationally. Their name, part question, part purpose, part statement anticipate the gallery's program: a host of ambitious projects that promote curiosity and thought. With a strong focus on Africa and the African diaspora, the gallery represents influential artists who engage with global and local contemporary art and socio-political contexts.

Lakin Ogunbanwo / Photo © Courtesy of WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery

Lakin Ogunbanwo's work has been many times presented at PhotoLondon and other international art fairs. Ogunbanwo sensually converging classical portraiture with fashion, making his photographic work enigmatic, bold and vibrant. His subjects are often masked or against bright-coloured backgrounds with minimalist, often erotic tone. Ogunbano's series quietly challenged the conservative culture of Nigeria.

Youssef Nabil / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie Nathalie Obadia


A group exhibition presenting the works of Youssef Nabil.

Since 1993 in Paris and 2008 in Brussels, Galerie Nathalie Obadia has been exhibiting international emerging and established artists such as Youssef Nabil, Andres Serrano, Fabrice Hyber, Seydou Keïta, Nú Barreto, Guillaume Bresson, Patrick Faigenbaum and over the past few years Josep Grau-Garriga, Shahpour Pouyan, Lorna Simpson, Jessica Stockholder, Brook Andrew and Laure Prouvost also joined the gallery. Involved in the rediscovery of emblematical artists, the gallery accompanies them into numerous institutional exhibitions in France and abroad.

Youssef Nabil / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie Nathalie Obadia
Youssef Nabil / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie Nathalie Obadia

Youssef Nabil began his photography career in 1992 by staging tableaux in which his subjects acted out melodramas reminiscent of film stills from the Golden Age of Egyptian cinema. He later started producing self-portraits that reflect his dislocated life away from his native Egypt. Nabil's distinctive technique of meticulously hand-colouring gelatin silver prints offer an idealised reality and evoke a sense of longing for nostalgia that allows his photographs to move between our time and a bygone era.

Youssef Nabil's work is held in various international collections including LACMA (Los Angeles), Fondation Louis Vuitton (Paris), La Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris), Victoria & Albert Museum (London) and the Guggenheim Museum (Abu Dhabi).

Quattara Watts / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie Cecile Fakhoury


A group exhibition presenting the works of Quattara Watts.

Quattara Watts is an American artist from Ivory Coast, now lives in the United States. In 1988, he met Jean-Michel Basquiat in Paris who was very impressed by Watts's paintings and convinced him to move to New York. They had a very short but important collaboration. Through vibrant colours, dynamic shapes, and hypnotic signs and symbols, Watts explores the spiritual bonds that transcend geography and nationality. By merging found objects, photographs, and raw material, his paintings invoke the artist's multicultural identity and offer various levels of social and historical readings.

"The same night we went to the studio and he ran around saying: "This is it! I want to buy this one! I want to buy that one!" All the work the gallery had wanted for their show, Basquiat took it. He was a great connection. A couple of months later, he called me from New York and proposed I do a solo show with a gallery and then we started to work on it. I got to New York just in time for his last show. I brought my paintings with me, I just rolled them up, and he was at the airport waiting for me, and we went straight to the gallery. He called everyone, all the writers, all his friends, to come and see my work. And then he did the opening of his show the next day. He said: "Ouattara, I have a surprise for you. We're going to New Orleans" because he wanted to show me the Mississippi and its multiple connections to Africa. He wanted to show me jazz, and the Voodoo Museum. It was great." Quattara Watts

Yagor Yahaut / Photo © Courtesy of ZOLTAN+MEDIA


A group exhibition presenting the works of Yagor Yahaut.

Following over 30 years of commitment to the promotion of contemporary art Simone Guirandou-N'Diaye established LouiSimone Guirandou Gallery in 2015, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Through a solo and group exhibitions programme, the gallery provides a platform for artists from Côte d'Ivoire and abroad. As an art historian and leading contributor to the arts in Côte d'Ivoire, Simone Girandou-N'Diaye curated the first International Exhibition of Plastic Arts in Abidjan (SIAPA). She is a member of the Academy of Sciences, Arts, Cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora (ASCAD) and the International Association of Arts Critics (AICA). The gallery presented Yagor Yahaut from Ivory Coat, currently living in Marseille, France.

Yagor Yahaut, graduated from the Beaux-Arts School of Abidjan in 2008, is a contemporary artist from the Abidjan scene whose style is at the crossroads of several influences: raw art, symbolic art, singular art and realism. He depicts the difficult human conditions using metal plates, receipts, bills, newsprint, sacks of rice, cement and many other everyday objects that have already been used. The artist takes a critical look at today's egoistic and narcissistic society, saturated with consumer products as his characters still suffer from a social fracture.

Prince Gyasi / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie Nil


A group exhibition presenting the works of Prince Gyasi.

Prince Gyasi, also known as Prince Gyasi Nyantakyi is a Ghanaian international visual artist who creates bold, colourful images that aim to make suppressed narratives more prominent. Gyasi is inspired by the stories of marginalised groups, those pushed to the fringes of society; the Accra cityscape and its inhabitants are the frameworks in which these experiments take place.

Prince Gyasi / Photo © Courtesy of Galerie Nil

Gyasi deliberately stays away from professional photographic equipment, choosing instead to use an iPhone when capturing silhouettes that give off a particular feeling of strength and resilience. Gyasi likes playing with colours a lot, his subjects are often contrasted against brightly altered landscapes and vivid backgrounds.

He was recently commissioned by Apple Inc. to work on a project "A Great Day In Accra" to push the hip-life music genre in Ghana to the world. Prince Gyasi is also the co-founder of Boxedkids, a non-profit organization helping kids from Accra, Ghana to get better education.

Artsi Ifrach / Photo © Courtesy of Maison ARTC

MAISON ARTC / Marrakesh

Maison ARTC was not in the official programme of 1:54 as it is not an art gallery but it is probably the most creative and artistic hub in Marrakesh. The Maison ARTC is a space run by Artsi Ifrach who is also behind the name ARTSIMOUS, an artistic collaboration with Belgium based photographer Mous Lamrabat. Their photographic works were exhibited by Voice Gallery at 1:54 La Lamounia.

But who is the mysterious Artsi Ifrach?

He is a Jerusalem born former classical dancer, creator, photographer and certainly one of the most influential fashion designers of Morocco who is better known as Maison ARTC. Artsi, which means My Country in Hebrew, lived in Tel Aviv, Paris and Amsterdam before settling down in Morocco. He has an extensive understanding of multiculturalism and on his quest for independence he found his sanctuary in Marrakesh.

Artsi Ifrach / Photo © Courtesy of Maison ARTC

Artsi Ifrach has the most extraordinary way of using colours, shapes, prints and fabrics as landscapes. His imaginative one of a kind collections reflect on space and time, from his childhood memories to the memoirs of the nomads. He started fashion design at the age of 28 when he was living in Amsterdam. He subsequently moved back to Israel then to Paris where the well-known agent Sylvie Grumbach of 2e Bureau presented his collections during the Haute Couture seasons as a form of installation.

Artsi is currently living and working in his parents’ hometown, Marrakesh, in the Guéliz where he actively collaborates with local and international artists, photographers, actors and musicians including Kelly Rowland, Beth Ditto, Ismail Zaidy, Laila Hida, Hindi Zahra, Amal Atrach, Isabelle Huppert and with photographer Mous Lamrabat he formed the art-duo ARTSIMOUS.

Although Artsi claims that he is only an autodidact and does not work with designer skills, his work is a pure essence of creativity and intuition. His designs go to the roots of memories, the ideas come from history, culture and tradition. His extraordinary silhouettes are innovative and contemporary and he is known for his rich colourful and eclectic style.

Artsi Ifrach & Mous Lamrabat of ARTSIMOUS / Photo © Courtesy of Maison ARTC

I start through a material I find around me to create a story that captures imagination, culture, memories and refined artisan work. The source of the material is vintage and handmade. In my pieces I want to use memory that moves me emotionally. Vintage fabrics can match past and present together at the same time. Colours, patterns and prints are my landscapes.”

He adds one more sentence, his favourite quote: "Napoleon once said: “There is a thin line between the ridiculous and the sublime.” When I work, every time in every creation I make, I search this line.”


As Maison ARTC is currently reopening its doors and online store in Marrakesh after a long curfew, we invited founder/designer Artsi Ifrach for an exclusive video-interview in his atelier to talk about his life, creative work, inspirations and evocative messages through his photographic series ... stay tuned.

"Goulou Limma" by Chaba Zahouania with excepts of Bernardo Bertolucci's "Thé au Sahara"


It is time to pack. My car arrives and we speed to the airport. I wind the window down and let the hot air hit my face for the last time. I hear "Goulou Limma" by Chaba Zahouania from Bertolucci's "Thé au Sahara" and my driver turns the volume up …

On that note, I wrap my journey leaving the ochre city behind, not knowing what will be waiting for me in London on my return, not knowing that the sky is going be shattered for a long time.

As I cannot switch off from Marrakesh, a quote comes into my mind from Vanessa Branson's memoir, fresh off the press:

"If you don't do it, you haven't done it." Eva Branson



Some of our images and part of the articles will be published by Assouline Publishing New York, in their next book on "Marrakesh".


Photo-montage of Moroccan tea ceremony

/ Photo © Courtesy of ZOLTAN+MEDIA

"Histoires de Tripes 005" by Ghizlane Sahli

Caire” by Denis Dailleux / Galerie 127

/ Photo © Courtesy of Denis Dailleux


Photo-montage of Moroccan tea ceremony

Waiter at Dar el Bacha Marrakesh

/ Photo © Courtesy of ZOLTAN+MEDIA


Photo-montage of Moroccan tea ceremony

/ Photo © Courtesy of ZOLTAN+MEDIA

Portrait of "Joel" by Omar Victor Diop / Galerie MAGNIN-A

/ Photo © Courtesy of Omar Victor Diop




La Mamounia Palace Avenue Bab Jdid, 40040 Marrakesh Morocco

/ 20-21 February 2020 / Invitation only - preview days

/ 22-23 February 2020 / Tickets free - open to the public


The Caldwell Factory 547 West 26th Street, 10001 New York, NY, USA

/ 7 May 2020 / Invitation only - preview day

/ 8 - 10 May 2020 - open to the public


Somerset House The Strand, WC2R 1LA London, UK

/ 7 October 2020 / Invitation only - preview day

/ 8 - 11 October 2020 - open to the public



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