Sheeps' Head Vendor

48" x 40"

The market places in Morroco are very colorful places, especially in the vegetable stalls. Piles and pyramids of greenery, olives of many different kinds and colours, bell peppers, cauliflowers, and so on. Really, a delightful symphony of colours and forms. Often you can see a sheeps' head vendor; usually heads are piled up in pyramid shape, quite an unusual site and a disquieting one.

Once I took a night bus from Casablanca to Tangiers, in order to catch a ferry boat to Spain in the morning. When the bus left Casablanca, it was very very full with a most colourful crowd of local people dressed in jalabas, tunics with heavy shawls, and women only showing their eyes, with all their luggage and all kinds of baskets full of produce and fowl; noisy crowd which very quickly fell to silence. They have a great capacity to fall asleep suddenly.

Periodically the bus would stop at a roadside coffee shack, so passengers could stretch their legs and have some coffee or tea. At one stop, in the middle of the night, again passengers were jumping out of the bus, and myself in a half-sleep state, stepped down, and I saw a vision of very impressive proportions. A green, old and shakey table, its legs in a pool of blood, and a pyramid of sheeps' heads piled up on top of it...bulging eyes sticking out, big shinny, healthy teeth smiling at me, eternal smiles.

A man in a long jalaba stood behind the table, hoping to sell some of those heads at 3am in the morning. It was like a scene from a horror movie, a little shack right behind him where I went to get very sweet coffee in a sticky glass, and all lit by one electric bulb.

For years I was carrying this image with very apprehensive feelings. Finally I decided to paint it. This image always triggers very macabre, ominous feelings...and the rest is up to the interpretations of the beholder.

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