The artists of Nouakchott

His brush swished across the sheet and his practiced fingers easily chose the right amount of colour and blended them perfectly. I spent the afternoon and evening with Hamady; a Mauritanian artist. He has an unordinary skill to paint with coffee, and the paintings are marvelous. His idea of politics and his own interpretations of Mauritanian culture becomes visible in his studio; a twelve square meter garage close to the center of Nouakchott.

Hamady took me to his teachers’ collective of painters in a remote part of town where children play football in the sand and donkeys gather to be cared for. Inside the house five members of the collective, including the chief himself, has gathered to print biodegradable bags for the shops to sell now as plastic bags are banned. Using a plastic box with carved out letters in three different small containers of paint they made prints on every bag, saying “my biodegradable bag for our environment”. It’s genial! I love it. By three people at the time in a perfect co-work they printed bag after bag by scraping the paint over the carved out letters, creating the identical prints on each bag. Colours: red, green and black. The colours of Mauritania.

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