Fantasia is a traditional exhibition of horsemanship in the Maghreb performed during cultural festivals and to close Maghrebi wedding celebrations. “Fantasia” is an imported name, the actual traditional term used is lab el baroud.
The performance consists of a group of horse riders, all wearing traditional clothes, who charge along a straight path at the same speed so as to form a line, and then at the end of the charge (about two hundred meters) fire into the sky using old muskets or muzzle-loading rifles The difficulty of the performance is in synchronizing the movement of the horses during acceleration of the charge, and especially in firing the guns simultaneously so that one single shot is heard. The horse is referred to as a fantasia horse and are of Arabian, Andalusian or Barb stock. More on Fantasia
Hassan El Glaoui (1924–2018) was a Moroccan figurative painter best known for his depictions of fantasia horsemen. El Glaoui was born in Marrakesh, Morocco, to the last Pasha of Marrakesh, Thami El Glaoui. The artist credited British Prime Minister Winston Churchill with convincing his powerful father to let him pursue painting as a career, particularly after a 1943 meeting when the Pasha sought and received Churchill’s opinion of his son’s paintings. The son was the scion to a 300-year-old dynasty over the Berbers, but went into exile following his father’s death, with which his family’s wealth was confiscated and Hassan El Glaoui himself jailed. He moved to a suburb of Paris upon his release. Beginning in the early 1950s, El Glaoui trained in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts. He returned to Morocco after 15 years, in 1965. His first show was held under a tent in Morocco.
His paintings follow the Moroccan figurative tradition, and his main subjects are military horses and their riders. He rose to prominence in the 1980s with his modernist figurative paintings of fantasia horsemen and landscapes. The artist was later exhibited widely in Europe and the United States, among other places. He held solo shows in Paris (1950), New York (1952, 1967), London (1960), Brussels (1969), and Casablanca, and his works are collected in the Royal Palace Collection in Fez, Morocco, and the Parliament Collection in Rabat. In exile in New York, he stood out in his djellaba and retained his polite demeanor.
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