La Main

Farid Belkahia

La Main, 1980

Dye on skin





Price: 250,000 USD

About The Work

Belkahia created his first series of Hand in 1980 as part of a work of large hands shaped from wooden blocks. The hand (khamsa), is representative of the hand of Fatima, the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter, and is a protective symbol against the evil eye. The carved wooden block is covered with stretched vellum. The dense surface ornamentation depicts an array of geometric symbols, including triangles, lozenges, diamonds, and crosses, as well as magical numbers and various samples of the Tifinagh script, still in use amongst Berber and related Tuareg people from Morocco. In Hand, the artist’s employment of animal skin evokes the sacrifice of the animal; his use of the colourful henna motifs awaken the memory of joyful symbolic events, such as, weddings and coming of age ceremonies. The skin is the most vital part of the body: it has a sensual memory of touch and temperature, yet it can also be branded and scalded. Skin remembers pleasure and pain, heat and cold. It is this essence that Belkahia chooses to convey in his use of vellum, embedding memory, sensuality and mysticism within his dynamic compositions.

About Farid Belkahia

One of post-colonial Morocco’s most distinguished modern artists, Farid Belkahia was a deeply contemplative artist who worked primarily in the mediums of painting, metalwork and leather, which he treated using traditional techniques and natural dyes, such as henna. A student of the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Belkahia became the director of Casablanca’s École supérieure des Beaux-Arts in 1962. The fact that this was after Morocco’s drive for independence was successful in 1956 is vital. Although he was influenced by the minimalist and modernist aesthetics from the West, he was a key player in incorporating vibrant symbols from Moroccan heritage into his work. In the 1960s, he began working with copper to create bas-reliefs and the symbols in his work were inspired by tattoos and letter shapes from Morocco’s indigenous Amazigh culture and architecture.


Founded in 2004 in Tunis by Essia Hamdi, the gallery presents works of internationally renowned artists, talented and proven. Since its creation, its founder has continued to link projects and exhibitions, choosing to implement a two-fold policy. One concerns modern Tunisian artists (such as those of the Tunis school: Ali Bellagha, AbdelaziziGorgi ... and international (like Pomar and Sosno). The other part gives an opportunity for young contemporary artists to express themselves through different mediums ranging from photo to video and installations; Essia Hamdi entrusted them with this task in the form of 'Carte Blanche'. The gallery's participation in prestigious art fairs not only allowed artists to be visible outside their home country, but also to the acquisition of some works from important museums, such as the Guggenheim's Abu Dhabi.

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