February 21, 2016

Abdelkader Rifi, Decorated house

picture by unknown photographer from
website Royal Book Lodge

Above picture shows the decorated facade of a house in Gagny, a suburb of Paris.

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, where he built his house on a small plot of land.

Insofar Rifi is known as an outsider artist, that is mainly because 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 has 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 in the (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.

picture from weblog Le poignard subtil
at the right Madeleine Lommel (1923-2009)

Above picture (on Bruno Montpied's weblog) also portrays Madeleine Lommel, founder of the collection l'Aracine (see also the page in this weblog about museums), who was almost a neighbour of Rifi in Gagny and who liked his artwork.

Abdelkader Rifi passed away in 2005. When I first edited this post (in 2016) I could find no information about the current status of the house he decorated. But then in 2018 the website Habitants-paysagistes (documentary reviews of art environments donated to the Lille Art Museum) was published. This website, with a review and a series of  pictures of Rifi's art environment (from the collection l'Aracine), reports that the site doesn't exist anymore.

* articles and referrals on Bruno Montpied's weblog May 2008, April 2009 and August 2011
* referral in weblog Animula Vagula, August 2014
* a series of photos by Francis David on website Habitants-paysagistes (2018)

Abdelkader Rifi
Decorated house
Rue Camelinat
Gagny, dept Seine-Saint-Denis, region Île de France, France
site doesn't exist anymore

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