‘Lumière d’Or’ by Mahjoub Ben Bella at Lilia Ben Salah Gallery

‘Lumière d’Or’ (Golden Light), a solo exhibition by Mahjoub Ben Bella, runs from April 3rd to May 18th, 2024 at Lilia Ben Salah Gallery. Showcasing an array of paintings, many displayed for the first time, the exhibition delves into the artist’s final creative phase until his passing in 2020. Ben Bella, a versatile artist, explored various mediums including canvas, paper, wood, and public installations, aligning with Abstract Expressionism or Lyrical Abstraction, a movement flourishing in the latter half of the 20th century. This debut exhibition at the gallery unveils a series of paintings emblematic of Ben Bella’s artistic quest, probing the nexus between symbols and abstraction.

Mahjoub Ben Bella Diaphane, 2012, Huile sur toile, 116 x 89 cm, photo Romain Darnaud

Born in Algeria in 1946, Ben Bella honed his craft at the École des Beaux-Arts in Oran, then continued his studies in France under Claude Vicente. Settling in Tourcoing in 1975, he became a prominent figure in the regional and international art scene, utilising the former stables of the Joire bank as his studio for two decades.

Mahjoub Ben Bella, Message, 2006 Cageot et huile sur bois 123 x 60 cm photo Romain Darnaud

Inspired by luminaries like Mark Tobey, Jean-Paul Riopelle, and Henri Michaux, Ben Bella’s oeuvre reflects an amalgamation of Eastern and Western influences, akin to Matisse, Picasso, and Van Gogh. His distinct style, characterised by dynamic lines and vibrant colours, is instantly recognisable. His work graces numerous private and public collections worldwide.

Céline Berchiche, in her essay “Mahjoub Ben Bella, under the sign, the painting,” suggests reassessing Ben Bella’s art through the lens of abstract painting’s history, emphasising its inventive richness. Morad Montazami, in “Mahjoub Ben Bella: Always Magical, the Sign is Stronger than the Bombs,” explores Ben Bella’s engagement with calligraphic lines, reminiscent of Algerian avant-garde. Ben Bella’s works, akin to talismans, transcend conventional boundaries, inviting viewers into a realm of symbolic exploration and hidden symmetries. Through this comprehensive exhibition, the Lilia Ben Salah Gallery presents a significant chapter in the history of abstract art, celebrating Ben Bella’s legacy.

Mahjoub Ben Bella Hommage à Riopelle, 2016 Huile et encre de Chine sur bois 30 x 30 cm photo Romain Darnaud

About Mahjoub Ben Bella

Mahjoub Ben Bella, born in 1946 in Maghnia, Algeria, studied at École des Beaux-Arts in Oran and École Supérieure d’Art in Tourcoing, France. Graduating in 1969, he furthered his education at École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs and École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Settling in Tourcoing in 1975, he established his studio for life. Ben Bella’s artistry spans monumental frescoes, ceramics, sculptures, and various painting mediums, showcased in exhibitions across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. His diverse oeuvre includes performances, reflecting his multifaceted talent and enduring legacy in the global art scene.

Location: Lilia Ben Salah Gallery, Paris

Date: April 3rd to May 18th, 2024

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