Rachid Ben Ali

1978 · Morocco

Artist biography

Controversial Moroccan artist Rachid Ben Ali is not afraid to ruffle feathers with his acerbic artistic creations. So powerful are the themes of his work that he has even been driven into hiding.

Channeling concerns regarding equality and justice in our modern world, Ali challenges conventions by creating painfully violent works that reflect these trepidations. Offering perhaps a similar catharsis as did the art of Max Ernst for his recovery following his service in World War II, Ali’s compositions convey the sense of ultimate release or escape from the inequities of our contemporary moment.

Born in Taza, Morocco in 1978, Ali moved to the Netherlands in his teens and studied at the Polytechnic of the Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. Today he splits his time between Amsterdam and London, however he has enjoyed the showcase of his work in numerous locales across Europe. Recent exhibitions of Ali’s work include those at the Tanya Rumpff Gallery in Haarlem as well as the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam between 2001 and 2003.

In 2003 he won the KunstRAI award for young artists, and in 2005 40 of his most recent paintings were shown at the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in Amstelveen, near Amsterdam.

His work has triggered anger and threats from Islamic militants in the Netherlands. He went into hiding after death threats related to an exhibit showing "hate-imams" spitting bombs. Since then, he has required bodyguards, the cost of which are paid for by the Cobra Museum.

According to the museum's curator John Frieze, Ben Ali's gory, violent and homo-erotic canvases form a "visual narrative that illustrate personal concerns about the war, cultural and migratory displacement, homosexuality, religious intolerance and discrimination".

Rachid Ben Ali

  • Exhibitions 1

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