When you see one of the gorgeous murals by painter Mohamed L'Ghacham Osfor you are overcome with emotion. These large murals have an intimacy and realness to them that makes it seem like you are capturing a glimpse into someone’s private life, even though you are looking at a painted wall on the street.
He has a style all his own, but his work feels like what you’d get if you put Mary Cassatt, Rembrandt, and Annie Leibovitz in a centrifuge with a little Spanish/Moroccan charm and add a little grittiness of the street.
While originally from Morocco, L'Ghacham Osfor has spent his life living and working in Spain. He was always interested in art, is mostly self-taught and spent seven years as a graffiti artist. He gets his inspiration from many sources including photographs, the cinema and what he encounters in everyday life.
L'Ghacham Osfor’s murals are all over the world and pieces are in galleries in Paris and elsewhere. In 2017 he created a mural in Jacksonville, Florida as part of the ArtRepublic installation. He will also have his first solo show in Los Angeles in 2018.
Mohamed L'Ghacham Osfor connected with Michelle Tompkins for TheCelebrityCafe.com to discuss his life, work, inspiration, the importance of making art accessible to people, what art interests him, what he likes to do for fun and more.
Michelle Tompkins: What is your full name?
Mohamed L'Ghacham Osfor: Mohamed L'Ghacham Osfor
MT: Where are you from?
ML: Tangier, Morocco. But I have been living in Mataró (Spain) all my life.
MT: How did you get interested in art?
ML: Since I was little I drew. Suddenly I became interested in different related styles. I simply drew all that I liked, cartoon characters and things like that. Later, I became interested in graffiti and illustration. And finally I discovered the painting and I think it's what I like the most.
MT: Where or how did you get your training?
ML: I studied many things related to painting and drawing but I haven't finished any of these academic courses. So my training is a mix between what I did in school, self-learning and my environment.
MT: Where do you get your inspiration for your art?
ML: From different places, but recently I'm very interested vernacular photography. These are homemade photographs without any type of artistic intention, familiar pictures and everyday things. Some of them are made by accident. I believe these have a special magic.
I have also been influenced by cinema, painting, other artists ... and life itself, I think.
MT: Do you stick with one medium or try different things?
ML: I have only seriously dared to paint ... but I would like to make photography or film as a final goal. But in a far future, for now, I have enough with the painting.
MT: What kind of art excites you?
ML: Any kind of art, if it is sincere and technically well done.
MT: What kind of art bores you?
ML: I'm bored to have to explain a piece of art to understand it. I think it's ridiculous.
MT: What drew you to street art?
ML: I started to paint graffiti at 15 years old because most of my friends did it. I liked to draw, so it was something very natural. Later, I became interested in other ways of painting in the street. One thing actually brought me to the other.
MT: Do you think artists have a responsibility to be moral? Political? Socially engaged?
ML: I don't think so, or at least it is not obligatorily. Sometimes it seems that art is the solution for many problems of the society, I think is more like a symptom of those problems.
I value many artists who are very committed to everything social and political, but I prefer to tell another type of story.
MT: Do you think artists have a responsibility to explain or contextualize their art?
ML: I do not know if it's our responsibility, but I think it's an added value to the work. It is one of the ways to make it more interesting.
MT: Who are some artists whom you admire?
ML: In the streets: Aryz, Escif, Axel Void, Felipe Pantone and some others. As a canvas painters: Antonio Lopez, Pere Llobera, Nicolas Uribe, Michael Borremans ... I would be here all day telling you names.
MT: How do you define street art?
ML: It's more like less street and more art. I don't know if that's a good or bad definition.
MT: Why is street art important?
ML: Because it has no intermediaries. Public and piece have a direct dialogue and the best thing is that most of the times this is by chance. I think it is good that art is not always for an elitist people with certain artistic criteria.
I like to have freedom and I believe that street art has it, although less and less, but it has.
MT: Please tell me about your kind of art?
ML: Realistic figurative art with Impressionist touches, starting with everyday life as a central theme.
MT: Do you work alone or with other people?
ML: Alone. I have made some collaborations and will continue to do it, but in general, I prefer to work by myself.
MT: How do you find spaces to show off your work?
ML: I honestly have been very lucky. I have a good gallery in Paris that moves my studio work well. For murals, I have more and more offers for festivals and interesting projects. On the other hand, whenever I want I can paint on my own. I have many sites to choose from and to be able to spend a quiet day.
MT: Do you participate in traditional art shows in addition to street art?
ML: Yes, I have participated in many collective shows in different countries. By 2018 I will present in Los Angeles (California) my first solo show. You are invited!
MT: Thanks. I hope to be able to check it out. How do you earn a living?
ML: A balance between murals and sale of work.
MT: Do you participate in festivals? If so, which ones?
MT: What are your goals for yourself for the future?
ML: I hope to continue doing what I like: to stain walls and travel.
MT: What are your hopes for the future of street art?
ML: To have a "future," and not just to be a fad.
MT: What do you like to do for fun?
ML: I like to spend time at the cinema. Spend time also with my girlfriend, discussing nonsense with my friends, etc. Nothing special I suppose... but lately, I spend a lot of time on YouTube without seeing anything specifically, only clearing my mind.
MT: What is something in life that you want to do but haven't done yet?
ML: Being away from everything sometimes, but I don't think I'll ever do that.
MT: What are your social media handles?
ML: Instagram - //www.instagram.com/oiterone/
MT: How do you find a spot for one of your murals?
ML: Large format murals are always curated projects. I simply get an email, we decide the conditions and date, and I get to work. When I paint on my own I search for walls in abandoned places and others. Unfortunately, lately I have not had time for those kinds of walls, I have been going from festival to festival.
MT: Do they come to you?
ML: At some point, they have tried. But I always had the last word. It is true that in some murals they usually give me information about the place and context, so they help me to go one way or another. That's fine. When you invite an artist to paint, you are supposed to do it because you like their work, not for paint your ideas. Some curators should consider that.
MT: What languages do you speak?
ML: I speak Spanish, Catalan, Arabic and some English; although quite bad ... I’m working on it.
MT: Is there anything you would like to add about your family?
ML: I come from an immigrant family from Morocco to Spain. My parents are humble and hardworking, they have never had it easy and nobody has given them anything. It is not nice to leave your past and go to live in another country where you do not even know the language. Neither my brothers or I have ever lacked anything, thanks to our parents. They are the most important people to me, even though I see them very little lately.
MT: What’s next for you?
ML: So many hours locked in the studio, unfortunately...
The Jacksonville mural, I think it will be the last one this year. After that, I will finally work at my first solo exhibition and spend a couple of months in Los Angeles, California.
MT: What does your art mean? What messages are you trying to convey?
ML: I don't think that this answer has to be given by me. I think that it is a decision of the people who look at my painting. The viewers have to do the dialog with the piece. I only try to paint what makes me feel excited or interested, I do not usually think about what I'm trying to transmit or not.
MT: Why is it important to be outside?
ML: It's the best way to connect with people and myself.
MT: Is there anything you wish to add?
ML: Thank you for this interview and thanks for all of you who are reading it. It has been a pleasure.
Learn more about Mohamed L'Ghacham Osfor here.