Chaïbia… from a housekeeper to a world-class painter

Chaibia, a country woman, was far from imagining that her spontaneous scribbles on paper would become an autonomous school of art, the school of naive art, of which she was the pioneer and icon even if she had never set foot in a school.

Behind Chaïbia’s fame, born in 1929 on the outskirts of Azemmour, lies a long history and a tragedy that deserves to be told in the cinema. She left her family home at a very young age to go to her uncle’s house in Casablanca, before she was forced to marry, when she was only 13 years old. Her husband, much older than her, soon died and left her without resources, with her son Talal. She had to work as a maid to feed and educate him.

Talal preceded his mother Chaïbia in the field of painting. In a few years, he managed to establish himself and make himself known on the artistic scene before being crushed by his mother’s fame, which brought him back into the shadows.

In a dream, Chaïbia saw herself painting. The next day, she began to realize her dream. Her paintings are inspired by the nature she loved. She did not recognize herself in any particular trend or school of visual art, with the exception of spontaneity.

It was the French art critic Pierre Goubert who discovered her talent while visiting her son Talal. Her drawings immediately impressed Goubert because of their simplicity and difference. It was thanks to him that she organized her first exhibition in 1966, before her paintings invaded world exhibitions from Paris to New York via Geneva and Frankfurt.

Her paintings have been sold at staggering prices and have become the subject of conversation in art salons around the world. She met with presidents and kings, most notably the late HM King Hassan II, who had a special affection for her. However, Moroccan critics have long considered her works as naive attempts to gain access to plastic art.

Chaïbia has known fame and has made a lot of money, but this has not changed her in any way. She remained the same, with her humble opinions and the humility and spontaneous spirit that brought joy and happiness to all those around her until her death in 2004.

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