New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School review; The Mosaic Rooms, Tower House, 226 Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW5 0SW; 11th - 22nd June
The Mosaic Rooms present works by the abstract painter Mohamed Melehi (b. 1936). This is the first UK exhibition dedicated to Mohamed Melehi, now regarded as a cornerstone of postcolonial Moroccan art and of modernism in the Global South. New Waves presents Melehi the painter, photographer, designer, teacher and cultural activist.
Melehi’s own work results from a dialogue between Moroccan traditional and popular craft, whilst also connecting to the hard edge painters of the 1960’s. His multiple and overflowing variations on the motif of the “wave” suggests new possibilities for a transnational modernism. The exhibition presents a selection of key paintings from the 1950s – 1980s displayed together for the first time in the UK.
The exhibition also tells the story of the radical Casablanca art school, through previously unseen archive material. Melehi returned to Morocco after it gained independence, and began teaching at the school in 1964, invited by the artist Farid Belkahia who was head of the school. At the school Melehi and other prominent artists and thinkers encouraged their students to look beyond traditional western style teachings, learning about local visual culture, and to move between artistic disciplines. In 1969 Melehi and other artists of the Casablanca school staged Exposition Manifeste in Jma el-Fna Square, Marrakech. This outdoor exhibition remains a central point of reference in the study of Arab modernities.