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Work / Illustration

Using a limited colour palette, Beya Rebaï draws abstract yet observational scenes

“It’s when I travel that I am the most inspired,” says Paris born-and-bred illustrator Beya Rebaï. “I always bring my sketchbook with me, it’s a way of engraving in my memory what I see and feel during the trip.” An observational illustrator through-and-through, Beya captures the world through her distinctive simplified colour palettes: “A girl in a cafe, a bouquet of flowers, the grace of a mountain, everything is an excuse to draw.”

A prolific artist, Beya works non-stop when it comes to visually translating the world around her. Working as a freelance illustrator, she plans her day around drawing, using the “posters in the street, the colours of a sweater in a shop’s window” as inspiration. “But my favourite moment,” she continues, “is obviously when I can put colours on my ideas and make a drawing that is a very faithful reflection of me.”

This process of turning ideas into colours is the pinnacle of Beya’s process. Her signature choice of colour appears to be pink and the resulting limited palette makes her work so recognisable. “I always start a drawing by choosing the colour range that I will use,” she tells It’s Nice That, “I pick four or five colours maximum per drawing. Then I make a sketch of what I have in mind and I apply the coloured forms in flat. Finally, I draw the details.”

As a result, Beya’s works retain a representational quality as she draws details out of blocks of colour using bold mark making. What appears as a figure walking beneath the trees from far away, blurs into abstraction as you look closer. “Usually I draw in situ,” she adds, “I choose a colour palette and I start representing what’s in front of me. It’s a good exercise, it’s like training so I try to do it every day.”

Having studied illustration for three years in Belgium before completing a master’s in Paris, Beya’s method of working is largely inspired by the nabis art movement. A group of post-impressionist avant-garde artists, les nabis has a painterly, non-realistic aesthetic – influences which are now clearly visible in Beya’s contemporary take on the movement.

Whatever the subject, whether it’s a couple looking out over a mountain range, or the interior of a butchers shop, Beya’s drawings provide a means for her to tell idiosyncratic stories through a consistent visual style.

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