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Visual Arts

Ahmed Cherkaoui
Ahmed Cherkaoui

During the colonial period, many European painters settled in Tangier, forming an Orientalist school. Towards the end of the Protectorate, a number of Moroccan artists, such as Mohammed ben Ali R’bati, Abdelkrim Ouazzani, and Moulay Ahmed Drissi began to emerge. Abstract artists such as Ahmed Cherkaoui (1934-1967), who was fascinated by calligraphy, and Jilali Gharbaoui (1930-1971) both studied in Paris, but the establishment in Tétouan of the École des Beaux Artss in 1945 and another school of the same name in Casablanca in 1950 gave a great impetus to Moroccan art. In the early 1960s a handful of young Moroccan artists, all men, at the École des Beaux Arts in Casablanca started a movement that mixed European and Moroccan influences. The Casablanca School was a crucial element in the birth of contemporary Moroccan art, providing a totally new and contemporary indigenous style of art.

Among contemporary artists influenced by this school are Malika Agueznay, Tibari Kantour, Rim Laâbi, and Mimouni Hassan.

Another group of painters emerged in Tangier in contact with the American expatriate artists and writers who lived there in the 1950s and 1960s; those included Mohammed Mrabet(b. 1936), Ahmed Yacoubi (1931-1985), and Mohammed Hamri (1932-2000).

Among the most important galleries are the Galerie Nationale Bab Rouah, the Galerie Mohamed El Fassi, and the Galerie Bab El Kébir in Rabat, the Galerie Mohamed Kacimi in Fes, the Galerie Bab Doukkala in Marrakesh, and the Galerie d’Art Contemporain Mohamed Drissi  (formerly the Musée d’Art Contemporain) in Tangier. The online exhibition Art Maroc has more than 1,500 reproductions of paintings by modern Moroccan artists.

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