About The Work
In his most recent paintings Mohamed Melehi returns to his bold graphic compositions from the early 1970s where he produced the now-familiar wave motif in block colours. The motif of the wave is, for Melehi, all about movement and change. It is as much about electromagnetic radiation as it is about water, and when vertical it becomes a flame. The Moucharabieh (2020) series strips away the waves motif to its bare essentials – they become all-over diagonal compositions - giving emphasis to the curved line, hyper-graphism and a clear chromatic palette.
Mohamed Melehi (b. 1936, Morocco) graduated from the École des Beaux-Arts, Tétouan, Morocco, in 1955.
He continued his studies abroad, learning fine art in Seville and Madrid, sculpture in Rome, and engraving in Paris. In the early 1960s he travelled to the United States, where he studied at Columbia University (with a
scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation) for two years before returning to Morocco in 1964. It was
during this time that Melehi began to explore his cultural heritage as a primary source of inspiration and started using a bolder, more brilliant colour palette.
Melehi was Professor of Painting, Sculpture and Photography at the Casablanca School of Fine Arts from 1964 to 1969. In 1969, he organized the first open-air group exhibition, held in Marrakesh medina’s Jemaa el-Fna Square. Eliciting much acclaim from the public and art critics, this exhibition radicalized the country’s contemporary art scene. In 1978 Melehi and Mohamed Benaissa created the Al Mouhit Cultural Association, a non-political organization with purely cultural objectives. The result of this venture is the Asilah Cultural
Moussem, an annual festival held every summer. A highlight of the festival is the mural painting event, first held in April 1978, a project which has revitalized the formerly dilapidated appearance of the artist’s
birthplace. Asilah is now celebrated for its vividly coloured murals, many of which have been created by
Melehi. He has held numerous solo exhibitions including a retrospective at the Museum of African Contemporary Art
Al Maaden (MACAAL), Marrakech (2019), the Mosaic Rooms London (2019), Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris
(1995), and the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (1984). He has participated in group shows in Casablanca, Tangiers, Rabat, Marrakech, Baghdad, Algiers, Dubai, London, Paris, Rome, Zurich, New York, Chicago and Montreal.
Lawrie Shabibi is a contemporary art gallery housed in Dubai's Alserkal Avenue. The gallery supports the long-term development of the careers of young international contemporary artists with a focus on those from the Middle East and North Africa. The gallery also organizes art historical exhibitions working with an older generation of artists from the region. Liaising with curators, institutions, museums and collectors the gallery has successfully introduced international artists to the region whilst at the same time presented Middle Eastern artists to the international contemporary arts community. By holding a regular programme of exhibitions, screenings and talks, publishing catalogues and participating in international art fairs, Lawrie Shabibi has since 2011, been a forerunner in the development of the contemporary art scene in Dubai.