Youness Miloudi builds relationships with art, the environment, and humanity.
Youness Miloudi is a 29-year-old Moroccan painter and designer. He describes himself as a "very optimistic, spiritual and hardworking person" and says that his biggest motivation is music; he can't live without it. He enjoyed listening to metal, progressive metal, rock, blues, and jazz growing up; in 2009, he started to play piano and was part of a metal band in Oujda - where he was born and raised, the capital city of the oriental region in northeastern Morocco.
Youness is known for his KASSITA project, which presents the early stage of his experience in art. He has had a close relationship with cassette tapes since he was young. He worked work at his uncle's studio, where he taught him to work on everything related to audiovisuals.
In 2012 Youness started collecting old cassette tapes while studying at t L'école supérieure des beaux-arts de Casablanca (ESBAC). He made his first painting with cassettes in one of the recycling workshops in his school. His artwork has 112 cassette tapes with 112 different names of musicians and production companies in morocco and worldwide. He participated in several art activities and exhibitions before graduating in 2017, specializing in Interior Design.
One of his mission and main reason of doing his artwork is to remind people that "cassettes are part of our history" and "Je considère les portraits en cassettes un hommage aux artistes marocains, arabes et africains, pour leur contribution dans le développement de la culture et le patrimoine national et international." He highlighted a tribute to the artist of each region in Morocco and Africa. He exclaimed that it was his way of immersing himself in knowing more about his roots and identity.
Kassita and becoming an artist
I had the opportunity to interview Youness one-on-one in his artwork space, where he has also lived for over ten years. The first question came up on my mind is Why did he choose to become an artist "Je trouve qu'Il n'existe pas de raisons tangibles pour être un artiste, l’Art est ma façon d’être et d’exister. Cet art me permet de créer un équilibre dans ma vie et aussi m’aide à passer des messages à travers mes œuvres." his response in French. Youness believes that Art allows him to create balance in his life.
In 2017 Youness organized his first independent exhibition, “ Kassita 48” in his hometown in Oujda, hosted by Moulay El Hassan Art Gallery. This first experience immersed him and inspired him to continue and deliver a unique kind of artistic genre.
After the success of his first exhibition, 2019 was the golden year for Youness; he organized four exhibitions with “ Kassita “ the first exhibition was on March 8 in honor and participation in International Women’s day in partnership with the Morocco Mall Casablanca, the largest shopping mall in Africa. In May of the same year, he shared his paintings with the public in a second exhibition in partnership with L'association réseau entreprendre Maroc. In June, he organized a special exhibition in partnership with the Maghreb Film Festival of Oujda and presented a new method of drawing on video cassettes (VHS). Lastly, in September, his paintings were presented in a special exhibition, “Afro-Kassita” in the green city of Ben Guerir in partnership with the Iresen Institute.
After roughly two years of hiatus due to the pandemic, Youness is coming back stronger after spending that time focusing on his creativity and delving into Moroccan history and culture. He will make an exceptional exhibition of "Kassita'kesh” in the red city of Marrakech in partnership with the French Institute of Marrakech. On the 6th of October, 2022, he presents his seventh solo exhibit, "Play it again!" in Casablanca through his collaboration with the Art First Gallery lead by curator Selma Naguib and Mohamed Rami the concept of their gallery is to travel around Morocco and is dedicated exclusively to showcasing the new Moroccan art scene in partnership with DS Automobiles. His current exhibition shows about thirty portraits of singers and musicians from Morocco and the Arab world who marked their time and also celebrate the influence of the music from yesterday and today.
Kassita represents the cultural and heritage diversity of the different regions in Morocco through its artists. It has a certain authenticity mainly based on audio cassettes, which is almost impossible to find nowadays. I was able to attend Youness' "Play it again" opening in Casablanca a few weeks ago, and it was the first time we met. I was blown away by his inspiring and knowledgeable presence, and he said, "From the combination of music and cinema, we can achieve painting. Our concept brings together these three areas on a single medium."
Getting into Youness Miloudi's workspace
When I visited Youness in his workspace, where he also lives, I discovered more of him than just art. He showed me the different personalities of his artwork, nature, and life in general.
When you enter his apartment, it gives you a view to imagine how he creates his pieces. At the entrance, you see a giant table board with some brush and painting materials he uses, and the whole space surrounds by some of his favorite art pieces, portraits, and wide bookshelves. On the right side of the entrance is the living room, and next to it is his work computer and monitor with a piano keyboard attached to the wall as one of his home decorations and showing his passion for art and love for music. Behind this wall is his closed-room drawing and sketching space, surrounded by some of his drawings and paintings. He draws people's faces live and turns them into a masterpiece of surrealistic painting by adding colors and different kinds of objects in it. He also showed me some of his favorite art pieces he made, and added that the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is one artwork of all time.
It is great to be inside artists' space, somewhere you feel you’re inside their brains. You’ll see and know how it all started and what’s more to come.
Artists, as we know, have a lot of creativity and passion, but we don't get the chance to ask and discover much about their backgrounds and other activities in life. During the interview, Youness mentioned working as a freelance Graphic Designer. Aside from being a talented painter, he does Graphic Design as his full-time job, where he earns most of his income and provides funds to finance his passion for art. When I asked him the difference between being an artist and a graphic designer, he said, "As a graphic designer, you work with people, but as an artist, you have your own time, and there is the feeling of being free."
The impact of recycling on global environmental change
was coined in 1926 to describe sending partially refined oil back through the refining process. Recycling, as we know it now, is an industrial practice in which people collect used or abandoned materials and transform them into their constituent parts to create raw materials for new objects. Recycling also refers to two different but related practices: the industrial system of reprocessing materials and consumer-side recycling motivated by environmental values.
Youness Miloudi's work comments on ecological change and environmental issues that are timely and relevant in his country and globally.
When I asked him why he chose cassette tapes, he said, " The collection of cassettes allows the protection of the environment in all ways since it is an object whose material is plastic which contains chemicals that can be harmful to the health of each individual in our population. We are therefore recycling an object that the majority no longer use. Not to mention that we unconsciously throw away not only an object but also a considerable musical history, culture, and baggage of our ancestors." His artwork speaks a lot about his knowledge and passion for art, the environment, and humanity.
An artist's role in society
We all know that artists have been exposed and played a vital role in our society since the beginning of time.
In reality, we don't even need to ask artists about their role because most of them can't explain it. Instead, they show it in galleries, books, libraries, and social media; it is up to you to translate it and give words.
Of course, I'm curious and had to try and ask Youness, What do you think is the role of an artist in our society? and his response in french is on point and inspiring, "L’artiste est un être humain qui observe et analyse son entourage et les détails de chaque élément, ainsi le rôle d’un artiste dans notre société est de créer et rénové des concepts qui peuvent aider l’humanité à continuer dans le bon sens...". So, he exclaimed that an artist's role is to continue to create and renew concepts to uplift humanity in the right direction.
Youness Miloudi makes portraits of other artists who have marked the history of Moroccan culture with PopArt style paintings such as Kharboucha and Rouicha. The choice of cassettes and the PopArt movement is based on the fact that these two were born in the same period. PopArt was birthed in the UK in the 1950s amidst a postwar socio-political climate where artists turned toward celebrating commonplace objects and elevating every day to the level of fine art. PopArt has become the most recognizable style of modern art. His "Play it again!" exhibition brings us back to a bygone era when the digital world doesn't exist.
Youness continues his research daily on finding and purchasing cassette tapes. He usually goes to souks (old medina market) to buy. Through this recycling and collective idea, some people send and sell their old cassette tape collections to him.
The Art of Youness Miloudi and his contribution to Morocco’s art development globally are truly remarkable and inspiring. He is reminding people of the importance of music as part of our history and artists that provide life to the art of music. Encouraging people to care for the environment and recognizing the ongoing contemporary issues in humanity.