Ismail Hjila: Using Salt to Draw Portraits that Are Truer than Life

After several weeks of confinement at home, he decided to return to an artistic activity he had been doing for a few years: drawing portraits with salt. Ismail Hjila has turned social networks into exhibition platforms to present portrait paintings made on a simple dining table.

If his passion is painting, his will is to distinguish himself. For this young 24 year old man, painting is both a livelihood and a passion. This native of Safi is excellent, among other things, in the creation of portraits drawn with a ballpoint pen.

As he is confined and finds himself at home all the time, he decides to revisit a technique he has already practiced before in 2018. Drawing with salt was for him a way to stand out, especially since very few artists do it around the world. “The original idea was to find an occupation in this period of confinement. Encouraged by my friends, I started a first portrait that met with great success once it was published on social networks,” explains Ismail Hjila.

Influenced by a Mexican painter, the young artist says he is “practically the first Moroccan to make works from salt”. A raw material that he makes to be able to use it. He admits however, that he does not hesitate to share “the preparation recipe”, which he prefers not to reveal, with young artists who wish to do so.

Indeed, as Ismail Hjila’s works are immortalized by videos and photos posted on social networks, they are doomed to vanish even though they require hours of work. ” Given the state of health emergency, I can’t get the equipment and materials needed to fix the salt. I have received many commissions for portraits, but while waiting for the deconfinement to be able to get the material, I draw on the dining table that I took away from my mother,” the young painter says with amusement.

As a matter of confidence, Ismail Hjila affirms that among the numerous commissions he has received so far are those of two Moroccan singers.

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