On a journey around the bustling, sun-filled medina of his hometown, the Moroccan artist – a contender for the Jameel prize – shows our writer where he finds inspiration
On a bright spring day, the artist Younès Rahmoun is showing me around his home town of Tétouan, a city in Morocco at the foot of the Rif mountains. Inside the medina – the old walled area and a Unesco world heritage site – he spots a bead on the ground. It’s small, plastic and the least interesting thing I can see. Nearby, men in striped, hooded djellabas sell spices while women in traditional Berber straw hats walk past. But in Rahmoun’s art – which has been nominated for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Jameel prize – simple objects such as this bead can contain worlds of meaning.
The 43-year-old is dressed in an understated style – muted grey checked shirt and baseball cap – but talks like a mystic, seeking signs in everything. He is one of Morocco’s most important artists, but is unassuming, apologising for his (excellent) English as he looks for the words to explain how his spiritual life informs his work.