Exhibition — Sculpture, Photography, Mixed Media, Textile, Video | Film

Bad Color Combos, Yto Barrada

22 October 2022 up to 5 March 2023
→ Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Museumplein 10
1071 DJ Amsterdam Amsterdam
  • Monday 10:00—18:00
  • Tuesday 10:00—18:00
  • Wednesday 10:00—18:00
  • Thursday 10:00—18:00
  • Friday 10:00—18:00
  • Saturday 10:00—18:00
  • Sunday 10:00—18:00
Open today from 10:00 to 18:00

Bad Color Combos presents an overview of the recent work of artist Yto Barrada, including film, textiles, photography, sculpture. This solo exhibition presents a selection of Barrada’s work of the last five years, together with new artwork conceived especially for the exhibition. In it, she continues to explore cultural phenomena, personal histories and natural processes. This is her first solo exhibition in the Netherlands with previously unseen, multidisciplinary work.

In Bad Color Combos Yto Barrada continues to explore cultural phenomena, personal histories and natural processes. In recent years, Yto Barrada has developed new series of works around themes such as the acceleration and deceleration of time; motherhood; the history of education; play; the artisanry of natural dyes and color as material; traditions of modernism and our futile attempts to control nature.


In her work, Yto Barrada often refers associatively to international modernism in an attempt to destabilize a western interpretation of art and to examine the local issues of globalization. In the After Stella series, she references a specific moment in the history of abstract painting: the color field paintings produced by the American artist Frank Stella in the mid-1960s. Stella drew his inspiration from his travels in Morocco and titled paintings after Moroccan cities. Alongside Stella, Barrada also invokes Mohamed Chebaa, Farid Belkahia, and Mohammed Melehi, painters affiliated with the Casablanca School in the 1960 who pioneered North African modernism in their abstract paintings. 


This exhibition presents three of Barrada’s most important films in 8 and 16 mm: Tree Identification for Beginners (2017), The Power of Two or Three Suns (2020) and Continental Drift (2022).  

The Power of Two or Three Suns was shot in an industrial testing laboratory where a variety of materials and products are subjected to artificially simulated natural forces to assess their durability. The exposure of colors to the power of the (artificial) sun acts as a metaphor for the passage of time, for aging and decay, and for the impact of climate change and the ecological crisis.


Along with her sociopolitical concerns, Yto Barrada’s artistic practice is grounded in the idea of community, artistic kinship, and collaboration with friends and family. The artist explores her interest in play, education and experimentation in a gallery in which alongside her own work, she showcases that of female artists of three generations: Elodie Pong (b. 1968), Bettina (Bettina Grossman,1927-2021) as well as new work co-created with her 8-year-old daughter, Tamo. 


Yto Barrada was born in 1971, grew up in Morocco, studied history and political science at the Sorbonne, Paris, and now lives and works between New York and Tangier.

In 2006, Barrada established the Tangier Cinémathèque, North Africa’s first cinema cultural center. Her latest project is The Mothership, an eco-feminist research center and residency, centered on natural dyes and textile, and housed in a Tangier farmhouse. The plant extracts from this garden provided the dyes for many of the artworks in this exhibition. 

Curator Leontine Coelewij: “Yto Barrada unites different roles, those of artist, and collector. Her work is enigmatic, she explores various modes of abstraction, which can be interpreted as a critical reflection on the exclusionary mechanisms of modernism and can equally be seen as metaphors for current challenges.”