Juxtapoz Magazine - Mohamed l'Ghacham: The Time Traveler

Juxtapoz Magazine – Mohamed l’Ghacham: The Time Traveler


I heard you say that the works you were painting on walls were abandoned spaces, and you were sort of bringing the spaces back to life. I hope this makes sense, but they almost appear like ghosts of the past. Does that make sense? Like the energy that is left behind. What do you think of that? 

I grew up in Mataró, a small town on the outskirts of Barcelona. In this area, there are a lot of factories and industrial buildings that, because of the 2008 crisis, had to close. This was the year I started painting in the street. Both my friends and I started painting our first graffiti in abandoned factories and so spent many weekends and afternoons after school in such places. Many of them were still equipped and with lots of notes, calendars, and things like that. It seemed incredible to us to be alone in such large places where there had been so much life and so many people just a short time before. 


That feeling of painting “life” in dead places increased even more when I started painting more realistic scenes that had more to do with painting than conventional graffiti. On the other hand, I am part of a generation that grew up seeing a lot of pieces by Aryz, Gr170, Kikx, and that group. They had spectacular pieces both for quality and size in any abandoned factory you visited. Those people, in particular, made me see that there were other languages when working in the street and that by replacing the sprays with paint, rollers, and extension sticks you could take advantage of a wall much more, and reach higher to achieve finishes that are unthinkable with the spray.


Thinking about it now, I was very lucky to have references that investigated other ways and opened the way for me and many other young artists.


Do you change your process if it is a mural or if it is a painting for a show? Do you have different approaches? 

I think many muralists would agree that painting a mural is much easier than doing a painting in the studio. I wouldn’t know why. But I think that, in my case, time is of the essence. When I’m on a wall it’s a fight against the clock and you know you have deadlines to meet. That makes me more decisive (sometimes more successful, sometimes less so) and I don’t doubt so much what I’m doing. I know there is no turning back. The environment also plays an important role, and the city supports a painting better than a white wall. 


When I’m in the studio I tend to be more insecure, I erase, repaint, and even abandon paintings for a few months. It’s much harder for me to know if I’m doing things right or if I’m completely lost. That’s the battle. The process is similar, although in the studio I work with oil paint, and perhaps in the studio, I do give more importance to the format. Another good thing about the street is that you adapt to the format of the wall and it forces you to look for compositions that perhaps you didn’t even think you could do.


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