My week in Marrakech was focused on meetings and tasks around the COP22, so there was not much time really exploring the Moroccan art scene. I still encountered some art works in the International Art and Culture Pavillion of the COP22 itself though, that I will share here.
All the works were related to Climate change , as this is the topic of the whole conference, and conveyed a rather gloomy ,scary atmosphere. I liked the layering and use of letters in this abstract landscape by Moroccan artist Abderrahmanne Ouardane. I have been sketching on newspapers lately, and was attracted to this much more elaborate way of using different layers of text and scraps of newspapers with paint. I really like the beauty of the Arabic script as well, although I don’t understand the language.
I liked the combination of traditional patterns with a very modern look of this painting by Aicha Aherdane, also from Morocco:
It is like a swirl of the traditional henna art that has taken a rather spiky threatening metamorphosis.
I was touched by this portrait by Oussama Mahassine, Morocco, using various techniques from the Pop art era, lettering, print, the dots, letters standing out from the surface of the canvas. I really like the mood of the painting with the connection between the woman’s expression and the storks nestling on her head.
This Globe called “Immigration” by Moroccan artist Mohammed Zouzaf has something very simple and childlike, reminding me of an Easter egg, but it also reminds me of the various different patterns of different African regions and cultures, of arbitrarily drawn lines across the globe and I found it joyful and funny in the midst of many gloomy exhibits,
some of which were just too litteral – like this sculpture “Carbon Foot Print” by Swiss/ Syrian artist Houda Terjuman:
Or this exploded mannekin in combat boots on a pile of charcoal by El Mehdi Mofid:
There were quite a few artists working in colourful cartoon like versions, with words like “Danger”, “Pollution” etc, like this painting by Soleimane Konate, Ivory Coast:
Maybe these can be useful rather as illustrations for an unaware public.
I found this huge colourful painting by Farah Chaoui taking another step to a more personal expression, although she too used words as land and water in French and English as well the map of Africa , like many others.
This was a weird and rather unpleasing sculpture of blue plastic tubes by Nissrine Seffar, France/Morocco, that definitely produced a reaction in me and both clearly and emotionally tied in to themes like water shortage, draughts, floods and climate change.
The cultural pavilion also featured a string of concerts and performances that were a beautiful break from the far too stiff and corporate other parts of the Conference:
All over Marrakech, there were public works tying in to the Conference and the theme of Climate Change. Solar panels lined the freshly paved highway and the roofs of the Mosques, there was a new public garden in the centre of town with sculptures made of recycled materials.
This is “Labyrinth” made of compressed plastic bottles by artist Soukaina Aziz El Idsrissi. I found it rather shapeless and unharmonious, a little like a container port in the middle of town, although I appreciate the message and awareness it can create.
This globe made out of bicycle wheels was a more pleasing optimistic sculpture by Rachid Assiraj:
And I really had to chuckle at this cascade of aluminium nipples by Mohamed Mourabiti, in a country where every sight of a nipple is carefully hidden under layers of clothing and scarves in any weather:
Totally unrelated to the conference, I stumbled upon the BcK Gallery currently exhibiting the Malaysian “scribble artist” Vince Low.
Although I didn’t find the subjects creative, as they are for the most part copying famous photographs of famous people, I was very fascinated by the technique.
It is all wildly scribbled in ink with an incredible dynamic and movement . I found it very inspiring and will try sketching with this scribble technique now.
Although I didn’t have a chance to see his work live while in Marrakech, I will take a look at the paintings by Moroccan artist Abdelaziz Lkhattaf here, as he is one of the most internationally well known contemporary Moroccan artists, and paints a very contemporary , almost abstract form of landscape.
I can definitely see the shapes and colours of Morocco here, the dust, the sand and the very square shapes of the settlements and at the same time a gentle dreamlike imaginary world.
These make me think of the cloud paintings by Georgia O Keeffe. For me a reminder to approach the landscape subject with more innocence and spontaneity 🙂