Djamel Merbah – Couleurs d’argile


Djamel Merbah

Hello! Once again, there is a lot of art to see in Brussels this time of the year. My ‘things to visit’-list is growing almost every day. Besides the main exhibitions at Bozar, Wiels and other big museums, I also want to pay attention to artwork from less known artists. That’s why it seemed worth the effort to check out the work of Djamel Merbah at Espace Magh.

Djamel Merbah was born in Algeria in 1949 and came to Belgium in the 70’s. He graduated at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Art in Brussels and Liège and did several exhibitions in Algeria and Europe. So let’s see what his work is about! (Please note that the paintings where only numbered, so I can’t give you any titles.)

African sun



Merbah grew up in a country full of sunlight. The colors that he uses in his paintings are the result of a color study, based on the light that he is familiar with in Algeria.




You can tell by his use of color that he’s an artist living in two parts of the world. Besides his vibrant colors, he also uses a lot of grey and blue tones. I heard him say in a video that he’s fascinated by the grey stones used in Belgian architecture.




His way of painting is rather intuitive and is often a combination of both figurative and abstract elements. There is almost always a human figure, but when he starts to paint he doesn’t know yet what this figure will look like in the end. He often starts with different elements from his memories and then he kind of lets the painting live its own life, based on his intuition.

Human soul


Because he lets his intuition lead during the creation process, there is almost something poetic about his paintings. They feel rather intimate and serene.  Even in the most colorful ones, the figures seem to be inside their own head, overthinking some things. There’s no specific happiness or sadness, just a calm and quiet reflection of their thoughts. Or maybe that’s just my interpretation because I heard the artist say that he was very intimate as a child. What do you think?

More info?

There isn’t much to find about Djamel Merbah online, but I would love to know more about his work. If you have other information, please let me know by leaving a comment. Go see the exhibition before 5/11/2016, it’s open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11 am to 7 pm. Free entrance!

Espace Magh Brussels

Djamel Merbah Facebook page

Video made by Ludovic Passalacqua, found on Youtube.




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