Drawings by Soufiane Ababri
Born in Rabat, Morocco in 1985, Soufiane Ababri is a multi-media artist who works in the fields of drawing, sculpture, film, and performance art. He graduated from the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in 2010 and earned his Masters of Arts at Paris’s École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in 2014. Ababri divides his life and work between the cities of Paris, France, and Tangier, Morocco.
Although he works in many medias, Soufiane Ababri is best known for his homoerotic drawings of men portrayed in settings which depict a flourishing queer subculture. His scenes, either humorous or infused with emotion, are drawn from his life as a gay Moroccan immigrant in Europe. Ababri’s most acclaimed series, “Bed Works”, was initiated in 2016 and is still continuing today. These pencil portraits of men, drawn while lying down in bed, are conveyed in bold, energetic colors and explore Ababri’s interest in the nuances of masculinity and male intimacy.
Having a strong interest in sociology, Ababri’s oeuvre also deals with the idea of visual experience as an exercise in introspection, that is the artist sees the world as the world sees him. Ababri’s work, built from layers of personal and intimate events, also uses literary works, such as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 “Little Prince” and poet Frank O’Hara’s “A True Account of Talking to the Sun”, to examine the tensions, stigmas, and ambivalences in present day society.
Soufiane Ababri’s 2020 “Tanned But Still Angry” series consisted of seventeen colored pencil on paper drawings that Ababri developed over several years in reaction to police violence. These drawings depicted real scenes and situations experienced by Ababri himself and fellow members of the LGBT and POC communities. Fueled by the deaths of Adama Traoré in 2016 and George Floyd in May, the series not only powerfully displays injustice, but also, often poetically, emphasizes the need for equality.
Soufiane Ababri’s most recent solo show, the 2021 “Bunch of Queequeg”, named after the “Moby Dick” character, included all works from the continuing “Bed Work” series and was held at Praz-Delavallade in Los Angeles.The triptych drawing from that exhibition, seen in the above images, shows Ababri as Queequeg in the middle panel, with Ishmael in tight-fitting shorts on the right panel and three skewered severed heads on the left panel. In this work, Ababri considers not only the literature of colonialism and its lasting effects on daily life and culture, but also its presence in our most intimate relationships.
Ababri’s installation / performance pieces include the 2017 “Moving Frontiers: Do and Undo” at the Espace Doual’Art in Doula, CM; the 2018 “Humes l’Ordeur des Fleurs Pendant Qu’il en est Encore Temps” held at the Marathon des Mots in Toulouse, France; the 2018 “Here is a Strange and Bitter Crop” at Space in London; the 2019 “Tropical Concrete Gym Park” at the Glassbox in Paris; the 2019 “Memories of a Solitary Cruise” held at The Pill in Istanbul; and the 2020 “Something New Under the Little Prince’s Body” at the Dittrich & Schlechtriem in Berlin.
Soufiane Ababri has exhibited in Berlin, Brussels, and Istanbul. His work is in the collections of Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain Pointou-Charente and Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, and Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain, Pays de la Loire. In 2021 Ababri’s work was included in the Glasgow International Festival for Contemporary Art.
Note: Photos of Soufiane Ababri’s performance and artwork, as well as contact information, can be found at: https://soufianeababri.com
An interesting article, written by Joey Levenson, on Soufiane Ababri’s newest book and his use of intimacy as a means of social construct analysis can be found at: https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/soufiane-ababri-art-100821