Moroccans are devoted to pilgrimage. Pilgrims plead their saints to intercede on their behalf
to have their wishes fulfilled: good health, a husband or a wife, fertility, a baby boy, a baby girl,
good fortune, rain in season, abundant crops or a prosperous season in the markets.
I was also impressed by the admiration of the Moroccan people to their kings, especially to the deceased Moulay Youssef. It equals saintly reverence.
In my painting, Loyal Followers, royalty and sainthood unite to suggest a holy place, a crown,
the protecting eye of a benevolent king, perhaps a saint and a colorfully-dressed crowd of loyal followers.
Les vœux des pèlerins rassemblent les Marocains autour des tombes des saints. On cherche le salut,
le pardon est accordé et des promesses sont formulées. Taillés sur les arbres ou gravés dans un rocher, des vœux de longue date: un poisson pour la fertilité, une main, un œil pour protéger du mal, le rouge pour le sacrifice et le vert pour l'abondance.
Pour les Marocains, le pèlerinage est une dévotion. Les pèlerins prient leurs saints d’intercéder en leur faveur, ou que leurs vœux soient exaucés: une bonne santé, un homme ou une femme à marier,
la fertilité, une fille, un garçon, la bonne fortune, la pluie en saison, des moissons abondantes ou une bonne saison au marché.
Royal Cavalryman Riding a Wave
Oil on canvas, 1993, Vienna (70 x 90 cm)
Huile sur toile, 1993, Vienne (70 x 90 cm)
Royal Cavalryman Riding a Wave
In Royal Cavalryman Riding a Wave, green and red, the colors of the Moroccan flag, and royal guards riding horses wearing ceremonial uniforms come to mind. Since my childhood, I remember a guard dressed in a colourful uniform, a red vest, black bottoms, a green tunic and snow white gloves, smiling at me.
I painted the guard riding what may be a horse or a wave, because I love the color of the Mediterranean Sea in Rabat and because of the respect I have for Moulay Youssef and his Majesty Hassan II, the kings of Morocco, masters of consensus, who overcame social and ethnic differences.
Pilgrims’ Wishes in Green on Red
Oil on canvas, 1993, Vienna (40 x 60 cm)
Les vœux en vert et rouge
Huile sur toile, 1993, Vienne (40 x 60 cm)
Pilgrims' wishes bring Moroccans together around the tombs of saints. There, salvation is sought, forgiveness is granted and promises are made. Carved on a tree or a rock are timeless wishes: a fish for fertility, a hand, an eye to guard against evil, red for sacrifice and green for abundance.
Chasing Spirits in Blue
Oil on canvas board, 1993, Vienna (50.8 x 60.9 cm)
Dance nocturne en bleu
Huile sur toile cartonée, 1993, Vienne (50.8 x 60.9 cm)
When pilgrims stepped on holy grounds, the presence of saints inhabited them, their hair stood, prayers and wishes came out of their mouths as if they knew them by heart from some old and ancient time. And when a bird flew over a tomb or when a rain suddenly fell from above, pilgrims filled with joy:
"The saint is here!
The saint has come!
Grant wishes, and
And the pilgrims dipped their hands in the saints' water and spread it on their eyes and lips and ears and every other part of their body craving for a cure. They went to the saints full of anxieties and left happy and content that all their wishes would be fulfilled...