In Memoriam

Mohamed El Baz (1967–2024)

The Moroccan artist known for his experimental and unconventional work passed away in May 2024. The curator Syham Weigant, his friend and colleague, highlights special moments of his life and career.

Mohamed El BAZ. Photo: Fouad Maazouz.

Mohamed El BAZ. Photo: Fouad Maazouz.

By Syham Weigan

in girum imus nocte et consumimur igni
We go round and round in the night and are consumed by fire

Mohamed El Baz was the gifted child of his generation and an integral part of a generational shift, marking the transition in Moroccan art from nationalist modernity to cosmopolitan contemporaneity. His artistic journey was centered around his long-term cycle Bricoler l’incurable (tinkering with the incurable), an expansive foundational concept that shaped and sometimes disrupted his intuitions and inspirations.

His striking works function like slogans, vividly highlighting the perils of freedom to which the artist and any other individual is irrevocably condemned (to paraphrase Jean-Paul Sartre). As an image-maker, he restored the image’s place within a culture of aniconism.

As a member of the so-called second generation of migrants in coal-mining northern France, El Baz undertook rigorous academic pursuits, specializing in photographic media. His educational journey included the École Régionale d’Art de Dunkerque (1989), the École Nationale Supérieure de Paris (1992), and the Institut des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques in Paris.

In the mid-2000s he gradually returned to Morocco, where he had been born in 1967. It was a period of new democratic and cultural dynamism that encouraged the return of binational visual artists. He brought with him a charismatic rock ‘n’ roll personality, introducing a fresh aesthetic and cutting-edge forms and concepts to an art scene still rooted in the classical and the conservative.

He worked alongside artists such as Faouzi Laatiris, Mounir Fatmi, Hassan Darsi, and Abdellah Karroum, who founded the first independent art space to showcase this new wave of artists making artworks innovative in form, format, medium, technique, and technologies.

Although always edgy and rebellious, from the late 2010s he seemed to have gained a certain serenity without losing his fervor. Recognizing his influence as an inspiring and empowering figure for a younger generation, he regularly initiated grand, larger-than-life collective projects, often with charitable aims or to foster collective ambitions.

On Sunday, 26 May 2024, Mohamed El Baz left behind a local art scene, two countries whose cultures he proudly represented, and the broader African continent, to which he always claimed allegiance (Africa Remix, 2004–07) – all now bereft. As he himself anticipated, Mohamed El Baz leaves behind a vast yet unfinished oeuvre. Let our thoughts go out to his family, loved ones, and friends.


Syham Weigant is a critic and curator based in Casablanca, Morocco



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