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INTERVIEW WITH THE VISUAL ARTIST HOUDA BAKKALI

Houda Bakkali is an international visual artist and art director based in Barcelona, Spain. Her style is unmistakable and derives from a sophisticated and ironic mimesis of the popular contents of the urban environment. Her lively chromatic artwork is an elegant and essential vision of life. The artist seems to consider the urban scene as a festive visual spectacle full of optimistic messages.

She has been exhibited in Paris, Madrid, Cannes, NY, Barcelona, Lorca, Córdoba, Biarritz…, and she has been honoured with awards from the American Illustration (NY), Graphis Awards (NY), London International Creative, Paris Design Award, Creative Quarterly (NY), New Talent Award at the International Festival Artist of the World in Cannes, etc. Likewise, her artwork was selected for the United Nations campaign #UNCOVIDBRIEF19, among others distinctions.

Houda Bakkali, Extremely, 2020

Hi there. Tell me a little about yourself…, Where did you grow up, what was your childhood like?

I grew up in Madrid, in Lavapiés, one of the most cosmopolitan neighbourhoods in the heart of Madrid, Spain. From a very young age, I was inspired by the different cultures I saw, by their ways of living, traditions and customs. The colour and richness of the different races have contributed to making my work more eclectic and optimistic. This is why I’m always looking for that colour and rhythm that accompanied me in my childhood.

Why did you decide to become an artist?

It just came up. I have always loved art, design, illustration… I think that everything around us is art. We are part of a great artwork full of sensations, emotions, images and stories that continually inspire us.

In 2008 my first artwork emerged, precisely inspired by my origins, inspired by Africa, its colours, rhythms and people. These series shared a colourful vision of Africa, without a negative or sad vision. Just the powerful, beauty, energy and creative Africa, full of joy and happiness. That was the essence of my series Africa, sweet and pop.

Houda Bakkali, Just be happy, 2020

Since 2008 I have developed many other creative works, more focused on the design and digital illustration, as well as artistic direction for commercial packaging, branding, multimedia projects, etc. In 2018, I had the opportunity to participate in the International Festival Artists of the World, in Cannes, with the series Beautiful African Woman, a tribute inspired by the figure of my mother. These pieces are a tribute to freedom, emancipation and the women’s power. Inspired by the values that my mother gave me. She was an Arab and a Muslim, and she always fought for the rights, equality and freedom of women. At this Festival in Cannes, I won the New Talent Award and then I had many other opportunities and international recognitions.

Houda Bakkali, Shape and Rhythm, 2020

This year I have presented my new series called Freedom, which has achieved different recognitions such as the Paris Design Awards 2020, likewise has been selected for American Illustration 39 and has won the Silver Graphis Award, both in New York.

Are you glad you became a full-time artist?

Yes. My time is divided between creating my own artwork and developing creative projects as art director for different brands. It is very gratifying to be able to create, develop work where the imagination is capable of transmitting messages, emotions and communicating with the people.

What about your creative process?

I work through digital tools and on many occasions also mixed technique. I like to experiment and discover new combinations. I love to surprise to create more shocking artworks with power enough to connect with the public. I love art in motion, and I usually combine my illustrations with motion versions.

How are you preparing for your Monaco exhibition?

My next exhibition will be in Monaco, in the first edition of the International Contemporary Art Fair to be held in Monte Carlo from August 21 to 23. I am preparing this exhibition with great enthusiasm, after this period of the pandemic in which we have been locked up. It is a privilege to be able to return to normality and to be able to share my artwork in such a privileged place as Monaco.

Houda Bakkali, Amazing African couple, 2020

What has been your most touching moment you’ve experienced as an artist?

Undoubtedly, when I was awarded the New Talent Award at Cannes. It was a unique moment. After 4 days of exhibition, the awards ceremony was held. I heard my name on the speaker and ran to the place where the jury and the ceremony were. I never thought he would give it to me. I couldn’t stop crying and I remember it with a lot of emotion. It was a before and after in my artistic career.

What about your participation in the United Nation campaign against COVID?

This year I have had the opportunity to develop different illustrations and motion graphics for the United Nations call out # UNCOVIDBRIEF19. Some of my pieces were selected for the campaign against COVID19. It was a wonderful opportunity to participate with thousands of artists around the world in such pedagogical and creative initiative.

What’s next?

Now I am working with a new perspective on life and reality. Currently, I am working on a new digital collage series. A new artwork in which I seek to create transgressive feminine spaces that represent the strength, colour and energy of women in combination with flowers that represent the magic of nature.


Houda Bakkali official website

Houda Bakkali – Email: hi [at] hbakkali.es

INSTAGRAM: @hbakkali_
TWITTER: @HBakkali_

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