This artist used birds to create his new Dubai exhibition

Yassine Mekhnach’s The Conference of the Birds will be at Opera Gallery in DIFC until March 22.

March 9, 2017

For his latest series, French artist Yassine Mekhnach used typical art materials such as canvas, paint and beads – but he also enlisted the help of live birds.

To create The Conference of the Birds, a collection that’s now showing in Dubai, Mekhnach worked in his Paris studio with birds such as a pelican, an owl, a parrot and a crow.

“I tried to understand the psychological nature of each bird,” he tells EDGAR. “The birds eventually appeared on the canvases. This was a unique experience, as I was able to paint surrounded by birds that were at the same time in my head, physically next to me, but also on the canvases.”

The artist and birds will feature in a short film shot by Mekhnach’s friend, Baptiste Chenais called Cantique des Oiseaux that will show in Cannes this year.

Mekhnach’s work on The Conference of the Birds began in his Paris studio and then travelled to Tameslouht in Morocco where embroidery was added by local women. The pieces were enhanced by intricate beading done in Pondicherry in India, before finally finding their way home to France.

“After traveling to Morocco and India, the raw canvases come back to my atelier in Paris where I stretch them and add more colours using oil paint and ink,” Mekhnach adds. “This gives the birds their artistic life.” 

The 36-year-old, who started out as a street artist in Paris, was inspired to create this new series by an ancient poem written by Farid Uddin Attar in 1177. 

“In this tale of a quest for spirituality, each bird represents one human trait of character – conscience, curiosity, passion for example,” Mekhnach says. “This book sparked so much interest in me because I’ve always worked on the portraiture of the human mind in my artworks. I plunged myself into this beautiful inner journey.”

The exhibition runs until March 22 at Opera Gallery in DIFC; operagallery.com