"The journey to the self is a multidimensional multiphase adventure…. It's your gift. Protect it relentlessly by believing in it and in its power to make a difference in this world." - Amel Barich
Rabat – The island of Iceland is getting a taste of Moroccan art after its mystical nature inspired Moroccan geologist Amel Barich to take up a paintbrush for her first solo painting project. Barich showcased her first solo art exhibit, called “Journey through the Visual and Emotional Memory,” in Iceland earlier this December.
The exhibition is an “autobiographical window through my impressions from my life journeys,” says Barich. She adds that the exhibition “invites for travel and escape through realistic paintings, and for introspection and self-reflection through abstract ones.”
The exhibit will stay open to the public until the end of 2019.
From eye to canvas
Two years ago, Barich traveled to Iceland to work in its geothermal energy sector. She was taken with the country’s “utterly fascinating” landscapes, vibrations, and lifestyle. Her contact with Icelandic nature inspired her to begin her first solo painting project which led to her first solo art exhibit.
Barich describes the particular features of Iceland that awed her from the start: “Iceland is a volcanic island … The landscapes are dominated by basalt and include lava fields, black sand beaches, volcanic craters, glacier-cut fjords lakes which contrast with bright green valleys, geothermal pools and geysers, and beautiful polar fauna.”
Barich, who has a Ph.D. in geology, adds that, “For me, Iceland is the representation of a ‘living’ earth, geologically speaking and it is believed that early life started in geothermal hot springs.”
The artist paints both of Moroccan and Icelandic nature, of deserts and geysers. “As a subject of one of my paintings of Iceland, I like to think about [a geyser] artistically and philosophically as carrier of geothermal wisdom, a senior geyser, giving way to other geysers to shine after contributing its best.”
Even though Barich has been living in Iceland for more than two years now, she “wishes to bridge the Moroccan and Icelandic cultures.” She notes that “both countries have more things in common and even more to learn and share with each other.”
“Journey through the Visual and Emotional Memory” comprises 19 paintings that convey adaptation, self-love, consciousness, vulnerability, and values materialized into abstract paintings.
Barich says that abstract creative style was a revelation for her in her exhibit. She “found it to be the most therapeutic experience.” She emphasizes that “we are creative beings. Withholding creative energy can be damaging sometimes. It is important to acknowledge that.”
An ever-evolving artist
Even though she took a scientific path academically, Barich recalls her childhood exploration through art. “Art came in different forms, but I mainly drew characters. My inspirations were diverse; they could be from cartoon/manga characters or from my mom’s fashion magazines. One of my fondest memories is a mural art I made in my room. I was quite passionate and still am!”
Now, with a matured style, Barich says that she uses different painting styles from “total unstructured abstracts to strictly geometric ones to realistic paintings.” She mostly enjoys combining her paintings with writing. Barich says that “each painting has a story to tell and I like to bring a poetic, philosophical perspective to highlight it.”
Barich’s early passions were realistic pencil portraits, but later she became enthralled with acrylic painting. In 2007, she joined the Rabat University Fine Art Club during her undergraduate studies. Barich also participated in several projects exhibited at multiple locations, including Rabat’s famous Mohammed V Theater in 2012.
As for future endeavours, the artist is in the process of putting together a professional art portfolio which will see light in early 2020.
Currently, Barich says that her inspirations “revolve around connecting the dots between my life stations and digging more into those journeys and into my roots.” She has lived in seven different countries, each inspiring her in various ways and teaching her new ways of perception.
Barich adds that having lived in many countries has taught her to learn and better research her roots while defining the meaning of the word “home.”
A universal connection
Through her art, Barich aims to achieve universal connection. She believes that “being able to speak universally and timelessly through a creative piece is a gift.” But the artist also sees art as not without risks, saying its a “vulnerable process; art is an act of courage.”
Barich concludes: “We are multidimensional beings. Our experiences add dimension to our souls and spirits. It is important to cherish that, especially when living in societies that tend to automatically categorize us, depriving us from our full identity. An act of courage would be to respect our gifts by giving them space to be, to evolve, and to impact.”
The ending words of her exhibit ring true in her work: “The journey to the self is a multidimensional multiphase adventure. Material and intangible, it is meant to speak your truth fearlessly and allow light to shine through you and draw a unique spectrum. Yours. It’s your gift. Protect it relentlessly by believing in it and in its power to make a difference in this world.”