Mediterranean gardens by Baya

Today we talk to you about Baya, a talented and yet mysterious artist.

Fatma Haddad, better known as Baya, is a self-taught artist who offers us very personal paintings, reflecting her Berber culture. She is considered one of the pioneers of Algerian art. These paintings are full of color, joyful. Her work is an ode to life and the Mediterranean.



Baya's works are kept in the museum of the Institut du Monde Arabe. Currently, her works can be found in the exhibition « Baya, icône de la peinture algérienne. Femmes en leur Jardin ».

Her life

Baya was born in 1931 in colonial Algeria. A young illiterate orphan, she was noticed at the age of eleven by Marguerite Caminat, a woman who had come to Algeria in 1940 to escape occupied France. She took the child under her wing, hired a teacher who taught her to read and write, and it was at her home, with her brushes and colors, that Baya began to paint. The gallery owner Aimé Maeght organized her first major exhibition in Paris in 1947: Baya dazzled art lovers and entered the art scene, legitimized by great figures such as André Breton.

Historians often compare Baya to a Scheherazade from the tales of the One Thousand and One Nights. More than 20 years after her death, the Institut du Monde Arabe lifts the veil on the works of this shooting star of the contemporary scene, crowned Queen of Sheba under the pen of André Breton.


Her work

Flowers with bright colors, birds, women with long black hair ... It is the Garden of Eden paradise where the light illuminates everything. Baya's works illustrate a magical universe with an unequalled mastery of colors that remind us of the Orient. By privileging the turquoise blue, the Indian pink, the emerald and the deep purple, Baya has painted with an unequalled finesse the Mediterranean world.


Baya, Paysage (Jardin d’Eden), 1966. Gouache sur papier, 100 x 150 cm. Coll. part.

Baya, Paysage (Jardin d’Eden), 1966. Gouache sur papier, 100 x 150 cm. Coll. part.

Its Garden of Eden, a joyful celebration of nature and life. An oasis in the desert, this Garden of Eden is surrounded by mountains and sunny dunes. It is crisscrossed by rivers with abundant pure water, plants and its fantastic and familiar animals: birds, butterflies, fish. The fish of the Landscape (Garden of Eden) dance around the boats, the birds are in love. There are symbolic trees of Algeria such as the olive tree "a blessed tree: an olive tree neither oriental nor western, whose oil seems to illuminate without the fire even touching it. Light on light".
The Garden of Eden has the colors of Algeria: blue of the Mediterranean, red of its earth, green of its vegetation, gold of its dunes. Pain, sadness and death are absent from Baya's Garden of Eden, which has no artificial fence, unlike the dominant model of the Arab-Andalusian garden.

At Baya's, let's not forget, we are in Paradise. There is no night landscape, not in the countryside, not in the city, not even under the starry desert sky. The light of a perpetual day gives all their brightness to the colors and beauty of his world.

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