Every year the northern Moroccan town of Assilah organises a mural painting festival, a springboard for the careers of many artists. Thirty five years ago Moroccan artist Malika Agueznay went for the first time and it was here the painter and sculptor discovered engraving
“I like to paint big. Engraving is quite different. That’s where I can be painstaking and meticulous, tinkering around and trying out the techniques that I like. That creates a balance in my work. I can’t really paint on a small scale because the shapes that I create need space,” she explained.
For the last three and a half decades Malika has been combining her twin techniques thanks to an unexpected initiation into engraving at the first edition of the Moussem of Assilah where she rubbed shoulders with some of the world’s greatest engravers.
“In 1978 I was invited as a young painter to paint a mural, a fresco. And when I’d finished I still had some time left and so I went to the printing workshop. There I found engravers and they were the big names in the world of engraving. I picked up an engraving plate, a really small one and just started. And that’s how it all began. At that time Assilah had almost no electricity for lighting, there was no running water. But there were wells, and so after we’d finished our work and to rinse out our engraving plates we had to draw water from the well which meant we had exercise as well as art.”
Malika perfected her engraving technique later in New York and Paris. Today the painter and sculptor is also highly regarded for her unique engraving style.