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 Architect But Also of the week: An interview with Architect and Artist Youssef Nait Salah

Youssef Nait Salah in his workspace in Marrakech. 2020

Our Architect But Also series put focus on the artistic lives of architects in Morocco : Their aspirations, influences, and creative challenges.

Younes Nait Salah, a young architect, spoke to us about the passion that he carries for art and what inspires his work.

How did you start making art ? Is there a particular experience that drove you to make this choice ?

I consider that art is a vocation. My passion for it began when I enrolled in Architecture school, where I was introduced to design, shapes, structures, visual elements, and engagement of the senses.
Every single creation helps me unleash my mind, transmit my emotions and express my thoughts, deliberately. I do fauvist and pop art paintings with expressive color, ordinary subject matter, and simplified forms.

You use colors in your work. How important is it for you ?

Generally, I use a bright, clean and pure palette that lends tonality, emotion and sensitivity to the work. The palette depends on my mood, also, the brushstrokes play an important role in conveying that.

Does Architecture influence your approach to your work?

Not really, but we can't deny that art must get in touch with architecture so that it can transmit its message either by a structure, an expression that will allow both to expose it, and to renew its ways of expression.

The title of your last work is INSOMNIA. Can you explain in your own words the meaning behind it ?

INSOMNIA, represents the state of mind of a person trapped in a vicious circle, the more he forgets himself, the more he doesn't like himself, and the more unhappy he is and all this is due to wearing a mask to hide his true self. The meaning behind it is the difficulty to make your own personality fall asleep in front of another one, which leads the mind in a state of ebullition and inner turmoil.

What aspects of architecture influence your artistic work?

NONE to be honest

How does your work inspire your designs in architecture?

My artistic work allows me to have artistic sensitivity in architectural design which is an elegant balance between beauty and functionality with a work of form and volume through various materials, to give it a balanced aesthetic dimension.

Nevertheless, it also allows me to focus on the details of architecture in terms of interior design, the balance between full and empty, the diversity of materials, to have movement and illusion either in the volumetry or the façade, and to create a dynamic composition while avoiding visual overload.

In your view, how close does architecture come to an art form?

Sculpture is the art form that comes closest to architecture, in this case I refer to archi-sculpture. Architecture is a form that develops in space. The architect produces a functional sculpture in the city. He exposes it in the urban space to be appreciated first of all as a sculpture, a work of art, a plastic object. This is the principle of sculptural architecture or archi-sculpture.

"True architecture is sculpture”. Constantin Brancusi


Who are you influenced by (both in art and architecture)?

My influences were undoubtedly the Fauve and pop art. I add my artistic character to my creative work as well as my own artistic vision.

Fauvism is about translating what I think and feel about what I paint.

Pop art integrates visuals into the design of artworks and objects, using a palette that does not reflect the reality of the object being reproduced visually which gives the work an abstract artistic look.

What's next for you? (Upcoming projects... Your vision of the future...)

Honestly, I let my emotions flow and unchain my mind. Right now, my thoughts are hanging on a very rational quote that says: "What people call 'love' is just a chemical reaction that compels animals to breed. It hits hard, then it slowly fades, leaving you stranded in a failing marriage"

I think that this will be the subject of my next projects. I will try to visualize this through one of my artworks.

As an architect, do you think that artists and architects in Morocco should meet more often?

Why not? Exchange feeds thoughts and stimulates creativity. This collaboration will develop the artistic culture in Morocco. For me, an architect must have an artistic sensitivity and a sense of aesthetics to appreciate all that is beautiful around them.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for some! This absence of the artistic dimension, explains the aesthetic shortage of the urban landscape and architecture, the lack of harmony of urban insertion, are all elements that deprive the city of its charm, its friendliness, making it an unlivable space.

If you could name a work that speaks to you at the moment, what would it be?

"Art is not a crime" is one of my favorite artworks.

The word "Art" in this context means the fact of being different, and this difference includes: having different beliefs, different thoughts, different way of seeing things, diverse culture, orientations, and sexual identities, etc…

The reality is, this difference should not be perceived in a bad way. In contrary, it should be embraced allowing the person to be authentic and enjoying his full freedom to be himself.

Is painting for you an escape, a refuge or a means to satisfy your desire to create?

Painting is for me an escape, a way to recharge one's batteries, to escape and to evacuate the stress linked to the ambient gloom, because I find there a freedom that I don’t find perhaps in architecture, several constraining factors make that architecture is limited to what one finds today in Morocco.

You often place your paintings inside a room, wouldn't you like to see them one day in an exhibition room?

I find that my artworks remain misunderstood for mainly two reasons: firstly, the abstract touch of it is still misconceived that is why few people are interested in it. Secondly, my discreet personality. I have been keeping my artworks for myself and this makes it so difficult for me to share my gallery with the public community.

Nevertheless, I am open to expose them to all art lovers. 



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