Mohamed L’Ghacham (1993) is a painter and muralist from Mataró (Barcelona), born in Tangier (Morocco).
Mohamed was always interested in the plastic arts. He discovered the world of graffiti during his school days and years later he became attracted by the most classic painters and the language they use. His work is mainly figurative with a realistic character with Impressionist touches. He creates scenes from everyday life around him, combined with the visual imagery of late 20th century photography. He currently bases his works on a mixture of painting and classical techniques with the most contemporary muralism.
He participated in festivals and urban art projects in Italy, Spain, Morocco and has recently exhibited some of his paintings at the UrbanART Fair in New York.
I recently got in touch with Mohamed via facebook and sent him a few questions.
Hey Mohamed how is it going? For people that don’t know you or your work, may you introduce yourself briefly?
My name is Mohamed L’Ghacham. I was Born in Tanger (Moroco), but I have spent all my life in Spain.
Do you recall your first memories on your interests in art?
This may seem like a cliché, but I had always liked to draw, since I was very young. I soon became interested in comics and illustration. However, in high school I caught up with graffiti, which was common among many people of my generation. After that, I became interested in painting and I have pursued this interest to this day. It has all been quite “accidental,” because we never talked about art or anything related to art at home. Oddly enough, we still do not talk about it even now.
Besides painting, what medium you would like to express yourself with the most and why?
I would probably choose film-making to express myself. I have a particular interest in cinema and photography, but I am currently dedicating all my time to improve my painting skills.
How much does your art affect or influence your everyday life and are there any role models or artists who inspired you?
I consider my painting as a reflection of my daily life, it also represents my social class. The situation or the environment perfectly convey many situations in my life; although many times the protagonists of my works are not directly related to my own context.
I find myself inspired by contemporary Spanish painters such as Pere Llobera and Antonio López and muralists Axel Void, Sebas Velasco, Manolo Mesa, Aryz, Fafa an few others. My painting would be very different without their influence.
Many street artists started as graffiti writers, then developed their styles to become muralists. How was it for you as a start and what took you to the streets?
As you have mentioned in the question, I started in the streets with graffiti like most of today’s muralists. I spent some good years painting ugly pieces with my schoolmates, and I still catch up with them sometimes to paint some pieces. It is a good way to keep in touch with good friends and paint without worrying about how it will end up or how many hours it may take to finish the work. In my case, it was a natural process to evolve from graffiti to painting murals. While I was painting with my friends some years ago, I used to dedicate more time to the characters than to the letters. So, it was all a matter of time, I think.
Some artists claim that street art and graffiti fall under the umbrella of illegal work, while murals are more commissioned, therefor legal and considered as painting. Do you agree with such claims or not? And why?
As we have mentioned, many of the current muralists come from a graffiti background and they continue with it even after they evolve into muralists. Evidently, they are two totally different worlds. I think it’s okay to separate them. As the saying goes, “That graffiti is only graffiti if it is illegal”, and this saying is subject for controversy. But then again, it’s a nonsensical debate. For me, someone who spends the night painting trains is as much a graffiti artist as someone who writes his name in a hall of fame. So, It is quite absurd to define what is graffiti and what is not. What I do know is that neither philosophy nor conceptualism has anything to do with muralism.
Your works focus on photographic memories, usually with kids and parents, and it’s quite reflective. Could you elaborate?
I am very interested in representing small scenes of everyday life to which we give very little importance. It could range from children playing at home to family having dinner. I think that more prominence is given to the painting process, so the way I interact with it differs from how the audience responds to it. As for the pictures I use, many of them are usually photographic “accidents,” which will make you deal more empathetically with what you are seeing. I almost never depict acted scenes with people posing, I am keen on conveying what is authentic. It is simply what “happened” and I think that is what makes me so interested.
The internet innately separates the creator from the audience. What are your thoughts on social media, and how does it help or hurt artists today?
This subject is as controversial as that of the “graffiti limit” we discussed earlier. Internet is a great tool to show my work and I’m pretty sure that without the social media channels I wouldn’t be where I am today. I find it quite foolish not to use this tool. It is a free exposure to the whole world. However, the problem now is that reaching so many people makes your work sort of conditioned to one or other side. To keep the audience satisfied, I think some good artists are only producing for the audience and not for themselves.
Have you painted in the USA? If so, how was your experience like?
I have recently exhibited some work at UrbanART Fair, New York. But I haven’t been there yet.
Outside of the creating realm, away from screens, what activities occupy your time? Is it difficult to find a balance between “work” and “play”?
I’m not the most social person in the world. I have four close friends and my partner. These are the only people I talk to the most and with whom I spend my time when I am not painting. And there are of course some social obligations. I don’t really find it difficult to maintain a balance between work and play. I don’t usually separate the two, but lately I’m putting more time and effort into work.
What would you say about yourself that would surprise our readers?
Well, that’s not an easy question. It’s hard to praise myself. I think the most interesting about me are my paintings, and I wouldn’t know if they are good or not.
What can we look forward to seeing from you next? What collaborations, shows or projects do you have planned?
Now I have few walls across Europe. Also, I’m currently working on my first solo show and very excited about. It’s time to focus and produce some coherent work, I think.
Any words of advice for aspiring new artists?
My advice in general is to paint and paint. Don’t stop painting. and do not be shy to show your works, nobody is going to spot your work or appreciate it if you try to hide it.
That is it! Thank you Mohamed for your time and we hope to see you in Boston one day!