All posts tagged: north africa

An eclectic life: Brion Gysin’s North African odyssey

The unconventional British artist Brion Gysin (1916-1986), whose work was heavily influenced by North Africa’s Sahara Desert, is the subject of an intriguing solo exhibition at London’s October Gallery, called Unseen Collaborator. The Africa-focused gallery has had a long relationship with Gysin, being the first to show the artist’s work in the UK in 1981. This new exhibition brings together a number of previously unseen paintings, from Marrakesh crowd scenes to calligraphy and grid works and architectural photographs. It also shows us Gysin’s work in other fields, including collaborations with writers and musicians like the jazz maestro Steve Lacy; and a rarely-shown film of the artist by Francoise Janicot, Brion’s Devils. The work on display spans three decades, from the 1950s to the mid-1980s. Gysin had his first retrospective in the United States in 2010, but is little-known in his home country, perhaps due to the fact that he spent most of his life abroad. Influenced by cultural practices in New York, London, Paris and Tangier, Gysin produced thoroughly eclectic work and was once described …

A stranger no longer?

It has been a long time coming, but now that a sequel to Albert Camus’ classic L’Etranger (The Stranger) has arrived, we wonder why it didn’t happen sooner. The French writer’s existentialist classic about the absurdity of life was first published in 1942 and is still widely read and loved (particularly by men, if you are to believe the reader surveys). The novel is set in Algeria when it was still a French colony. The nihilistic protagonist, Meursault, shocks through his indifference. L’Etranger famously opens with his emotionless reaction to the death of his own mother. The story reaches a climax when Meursault kills an Arab on the beach, for seemingly no reason at all. No argument precedes the killing, so it gives Camus a device for exploring the absurd psychology of the protagonist and anti-hero. Now Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud has written a sequel from the point of view of the brother of the Arab who was killed. This is what makes The Meursault Investigation so different to L’Etranger, in which not a single Arab …