Alserkal Arts Foundation to present New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School Archives in Concrete, Alserkal Avenue
New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School Archives
19 September – 10 October 2020
Concrete, Alserkal Avenue
Alserkal Arts Foundation will present New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School Archives in Concrete, Alserkal Avenue in Dubai, from 19 September – 10 October 2020. Curated by Zamân Books & Curating, the exhibition tells the story of the radical Casablanca Art School, retracing Melehi’s career chronologically, from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Melehi is widely regarded as a major figure of postcolonial Moroccan art and of transnational modernism. Previously unseen works and archives present Melehi as a painter, photographer, muralist, graphic and urban designer, art teacher, and cultural activist.
This retrospective exhibition brings a pioneering artist’s multi-faceted career to life, giving UAE audiences a unique insight into a practice that feels critical and relevant for contemporary concerns in this region. The Dubai chapter of the exhibition presents Melehi’s documentary photography - through his travels, and activism - as well as highlights from his graphic design studio SHOOF, and the remarkable murals of the Asilah festival. This expanded research allows new insight into the experimental spirit of the Casablanca Art School as they challenged convention and collaborated to produce radical forms of pedagogy and exhibition making, bringing the artist from the studio into the streets and public squares of Morocco. It also explores Melehi’s in-depth engagement with Afro-Berber art and craft through the collection of Bert Flint, from which he drew artistic inspiration.
Mohamed Melehi, Untitled, 1970-1971, cellulose paint on wood. Private collection
Originally produced by The Mosaic Rooms in London, where it was shown from 12 April – 22 June 2019, and then shown at MACAAL in Marrakech from 21 September 2019 – 5 January 2020, the forthcoming presentation of New Waves in Concrete will be a further expanded exhibition. It will include a recently archived collection of Melehi’s documentary photography—over 30 years of artistic travel and visual activism journeys—as well as highlights from the golden age of the Asilah festival. The Festival, co-founded by Melehi in 1978, gathered avant-garde artists from Africa, Asia, and Arab countries.
The exhibition will reveal Melehi’s key role in the development of art pedagogy and experimental practices in Morocco, as well as his significant work in graphic design and mural painting, which has contributed heavily in shaping the aesthetics of significant artistic networks and political causes throughout the Maghreb and the Pan-Arab alliances.
The travelling exhibition and the Dubai iteration marks the first time that the full period of Melehi’s works has been shown on a global stage with a researched display.
In the spirit of Melehi’s impulse to free visual art from the gallery and bring painting into the public realm, the exhibition extends into The Yard in Alserkal Avenue. An adapted recreation of a mural from the first Asilah Moussem Festival of the Arts in 1978 has been painted by students from Zayed University in collaboration with Jotun paints.
The exhibition is open to all, with visitors able to book their visit in line with social-distancing guidelines. New Waves was originally scheduled to open on 23 March 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For a preview of the exhibition, and interviews with the curator and artist, visit alserkal.online.
New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School Archives is presented by Alserkal Arts Foundation. Curated by Zamân Books & Curating, the original exhibition was produced by The Mosaic Rooms, A.M. Qattan Foundation. This exhibition was organised in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary African Art Al Maaden (MACAAL).
With additional thanks to JOTUN and our logistics partner Crown Fine Art.