February 21, 2016

Abdelkader Rifi, Decorated house

Above picture of a decorated facade is one of the very few photographs of this art environment one can find on the internet.

Life and works

Abdelkader Rifi (1920-2005), who decorated exterior and interior of his house, was born in Algeria, a country then belonging to France. Not much has been published about his life, except that at a young age he became a mason and that at some moment he settled in Gagny, a suburb of Paris, where he built his house on a small plot of land.

Insofar Rifi is known as an outsider artist, that is mainly beacuse of the decorations he added to exterior and interior of this house. However, he also made transportable visual art, such as colorful depictions on paper, cardboard or plywood of flowers, plants, birds, small animals and so on. The scenes he created have an atmosphere of paradise or a beautiful garden, this all the more so because of the spiraling clusters of multicolored dots he often added to his creations. J’ai des jardins plein la tête (My head is full with gardens), he said.

Some of his transportable creations are included in collections, such as l'Aracine (now in the Lille art museum) and the Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection (UK)

Rifi adorned the interior walls of the house with large sheets of paper decorated in his idiom, and in the same style he transformed the exterior walls of the house into artworks, adding flowers, birds and other small animals, often in his typical styling with clusters of dots.

Above picture is one of the very few images of the exterior decorations available on the internet. This picture (on Bruno Montpied's weblog) also portrays Madeleine Lommel, founder of the collection l'Aracine (see the page about museums), who was almost a neighbour of Rifi in Gagny and who liked his artwork.

Abdelkader Rifi passed away in 2005. I could find no information about the current status of the house he decorated.

* entry on weblog Art et dechirure (Le Monde) april 2008
* articles and referrals on Bruno Montpied's weblog may 2008, april 2009 and august 2011
* referral in weblog Animula Vagula, august 2014

Abdelkader Rifi
Decorated house
Gagny, dept Seine-Saint-Denis, region Île de France, France
current status unknown

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