#HumansofShubbak is our mini interview series delving into the lives of the artists and organisers behind this year's Shubbak Festival. The third interview of the series comes from Moroccan visual artist Mehdi Annassi.

Mehdi Annassi – visual artist

Photo: Chadi Ilias

“One time, I was painting a mural on a wall in Rabat when a woman approached. She was angry about something. She looked at the wall and said “you’re wasting your time. I’m just going to pour acid on it”. But I’ve always loved to experiment and try new things.

When I was a kid my brother studied design. Each day, he’d come home from school and teach me what he’d learned. We’d open up Photoshop and set a text on fire or create a 3D box. Outside of the digital space I had no idea how to work with or mix colour. Painting was an abstract thing for me. But I began to see people I knew from the online world paint on walls. They’d made this transition and I was curious as I wanted to see how it felt.

In Morocco, museums and galleries aren’t part of our daily routine. So, street art is the practice of taking paintings out from the private sphere and into the public space. It transforms the wall from an empty canvas into something beautiful that can be interacted with and interpreted. When someone watches you work, there’s this pressure to impress, and the physicality of it makes you vulnerable. Onlookers incite conversation, question the meaning, predict what comes next. It’s the wall that generally dictates what I’m going to debate though. I always try to be inspired by the place and people that inhabit it. I want to create art that will blend and act like scenery. Something that will be appropriated by people who live there and be considered as just another element of that place.

Later on, at the wall in Rabat, a local guy brought us breakfast and returned with couscous for lunch. That woman with the acid is a rare case.”

Mehdi Annassi

See Mehdi Annassi at Shubbak 2019

Mehdi AKA MACHIMA has navigated through many art forms and disciplines from animation, comics and zines to large scale murals and street art. As part of Shubbak 2019, Mehdi and collaborators from the local community will begin painting a mural at St. Mark’s Road, Ladbroke Grove on 24 June 2019. Find out more about Mehdi’s work and where to find him working on his new mural.
See Mehdi Annassi's new mural

Presented with support from Bagri Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Drosos Foundation, Nour Creative Learning Programme, SKY and FerArts.