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Date published: September 09 2015

“Mosaics are part of my family’s legacy,” says artist, Ghizlan El Glaoui. “They are in my mind when I paint, bringing me back to my roots and the art, culture of colours of Morocco.”

The granddaughter of Thani el Mezouari el Glaoui, the last Pasha of Marrakech, Ghizlan draws on her rich Berber heritage to explore mosaics through clever paint techniques. She uses ‘the golden ratio’ a geometrical method often employed in fresco art to capture the essence of her subjects through vivid colours, oils, traditional tempuras and luminescent metallic paints on canvas. “It is also known as the ‘divine proportion,” explains Ghizlan. It is the hidden maths behind beauty and designers and artists since Rennaissance have used it.”

Ghizlan then illuminates her paintings from behind to give them a new dimension and a fresh perspective. Working with a lighting designer, she uses a mix of remote controlled warm and cold light, so that when backlit, the light filters through the canvas to create a translucent effect and an ever changing image.

“When you have a portrait in your house, it’s static and doesn’t change,” says El Glaoui. “My portraits change throughout the day, changing with you. The painting becomes a light in your house – bright during the day and abstract during the night. It is a piece of artwork but also an installation that changes with the time of the day or the mood of whoever is in the room.”

Ghizlan’s passion for art began as a child, where she spent many happy hours in her father’s art studio, the renowned Moroccan artist Hassen El Glaoui. Here, encouraged by her mother, a former leading Givenchy model, Ghizlan posed for portraits, becoming her father’s muse and igniting her own fascination with faces.

These inspirational surroundings from her childhood, combined with the rich colours of her father’s work, have influenced her distinctive painting style, resulting in a series of unique paintings, reminiscent of the glittering mosaics of the Byzantine Empire.

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