Noureddine Chater calligraphy
Nadia standing in front of a couple of Noureddine Chater calligraphy pieces © Dilan Raphiann
Noureddine Chater calligraphy
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Last updated: April 29, 2013

Spotlight on Moroccan artists

Banner Icon Morocco’s art scene is thriving. Your Middle East has met Nadia Echiguer who spreads names like Benjkan, Chater and Attar to the world.

Morroccan Fine Art held its second exhibition, ‘Finding an Equilibrium’, at London’s Coningsby Gallery this month. The five-day long exhibition started on December 3 and was host to a mix of established as well as up and coming artists from the North African country.

Nadia Echiguer, director and curator of the exhibition, launched the online gallery moroccanfineart.com in April with the intention to promote the country’s diverse artistic talent to the UK and the rest of the world. Her first exhibition, launched just two months later, was a success which granted her latest exhibition the support of the ambassador of Morocco, HH Princess Lalla Joumala.

Echiguer was born into an artistic family in Morocco and lived and studied in Paris before she moved to London in 2007. She explained that the art market in Morocco is thriving.

“There are over sixty galleries in Morocco that are actively promoting their artists internationally. According to Artprice figures since the early 2000’s, the value of artwork from Morocco has multiplied by nine. In terms of museums, The Essaouira Museum of Contemporary Art opened in April 2011 and the Rabat Museum of Contemporary Art is expected to open soon.”

The intimate exhibition, although small in size, certainly makes up for it in character. The different styles have, if nothing else, their use of colour in common, which, Echiguer revealed was a conscious decision.

“The artwork is very much influenced by Morocco’s diverse culture and landscape. This is apparent in the vivid ranges of colour used, which are generally bright.”

Established artist Salah Benjkan paints in bright coloured blotches and his childlike, somewhat comical creatures are distinctive.

“These fabulous beings are painted and invade the white textured canvases. At first glance his playful depictions seem joyous and light hearted but at further exploration one notices a sense of melancholy. The figures are removed from reality, waiting for their destiny,” Echiguer said.

She recognises this type of non-figurative abstract art to be the current most prevalent style but also mentions that calligraphy is very popular.

“Calligraphy is the heritage and glory of the Arab and Islamic civilization… it has the power to link art with religion and culture, all at the same time.”

An example of this style is one of the artists on exhibit, Noureddine Chater, who uses traditional calligraphy on vibrant and colourful backdrops to create a contemporary feeling, almost reminiscent of pop art.

Alongside the above-mentioned Benjkan and Chater, is the work of relative newcomer Karim Attar. His abstract style depicts the human form, often in a transitional state, incorporated with verses from the Koran, a style that Echiguer admits may be harder on the eye. She explains that his hybrids are a metaphor for the youth in Morocco in search of their identity. Morocco’s media and art world has recognised Karim Attar as one of the most promising talents in the country.

Prices from the exhibition started at £490 for a small painting on material by Attar and went up to £2,500 for a large framed Benjkan abstract. What could prove a good deal for art that Echiguer reassures will continue to flourish in a growing and exciting market.

‘Finding an Equilibrium’ has now closed but Moroccan Fine Art is set to open another exhibition early next year.

More information: moroccanfineart.com

Dilan Raphiann
Dilan is a freelance journalist based in London.
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