I practice drawing everyday. I think it brings me back to real life, to the world between my hand, my eyes and the objects I use to create my private space on paper. I remember, when I was a child, I used drawing to isolate myself in a crowded house. Drawing was/is the home that I can make everywhere. This means a lot of paper in my bags or, sometimes, abandoned in places where I stay.

I remember when I left Sudan to France, in 1978, a security officer at Khartoum airport was surprised to find more paper than clothes in my bag. He searched my bag carefully and examined each sheet of paper to see if I hid something in between. I think he was looking for political documents that I might have hidden in my drawings. During the search I was worried to miss my flight. I was so delighted when the guy said :«Ok you can leave».

I remember when I arrived in Paris airport, two security officers searched my bag and examined the paper sheets with almost the same interest as their Sudanese colleagues. I think they were suspecting me of transporting drugs.(What else?). The experience of being looked at as a criminal is disturbing because you start feeling as a criminal! I think my bag, full of drawings, protected me from that feeling.I said to myself :« I am an artist and these guys who searched my bag are «criminals in uniforme» because you never know what they hide if you have the opportunity to search in their bags!


At the Khartoum art school, drawing was basic to all artistic training but the living model drawing courses was a new experience. We used to work on dressed male and female models during the day but in the afternoons we had to explore the nude figure drawing in private groups where male students pose for each other. The teachers accepted these nudes in the exams portfolio but students were not allowed to exhibit them in the studios.


Taking the train/bus is a visual experience similar to the movie. During the first hours ,your eyes are attracted by the landscape running backwards while you are sitting comfortably moving forwards in high speed. But when you make the same travel in the same landscape several times you get bored and you start observing the inside «huis clos». People sitting for hours, chating, reading or sleeping. Perfect living models available for sketching.


Sketching people in the subway was a new experience. When I first arrived in Paris (1978) subway people seem indifferent to being sketched. Maybe they are too busy to see who observes them or may be they are in real big hurry that they are unable to see what is going on. Conclusion : the Subway people's complete indifference to being observed makes them good objects for fast sketching.



A few years back, as I was visiting my son Mimane in Kunming (Yunnan, China), we ended up going to watch a traditional Yunnan Opera show on the second floor of a market. There, I drew these few sketches of the actors in their costumes and on stage.


Back in 1996-97 during the summer holidays, Patricia, the children, and I used to go on a week long hiking trip in the beautiful region of Les Cevennes in the South of France. Tracing back the steps of writer Robert Louis Stevenson, we walked everyday accompanied by our loyal luggage carrier (the donkey). The little breaks along the road were always a great occasion to draw a few sketches documenting the trek. Over the last few years, we’ve considered publishing a little travel diary of this trail. If you like the idea, and would like to support such a project, don’t hesitate to get in touch!