Ahmed Cherkaoui, Red Talisman, 1967. Oil on canvas. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid presents Moroccan Trilogy 1950-2020, a sweeping survey of the culture of Morocco from the 1950s to the present day in a unique collaboration with Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art – Qatar Museums and Qatar Foundation.

The exhibition is co-curated by Manuel Borja-Villel, Director of the Reina Sofia Museum, and Abdellah Karroum, Director of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha. Moroccan Trilogy 1950-2020 looks at modern and contemporary art and culture in Morocco’s major urban centres including Tangier, Tetouan and Casablanca, from the immediate post-independence period of the 1950s to the pre-revolutions era of the new millennia.

The show features more than 250 works by 60 artists, including a series of important works from the collection of Mathaf, as well as archival material drawn from private and public collections. The exhibition also premieres or re-activates a number of works, and includes several new commissions.

Moroccan Trilogy composite
Moroccan Trilogy composite

Divided into three chapters, historical timeframes defined by major societal shifts, the exhibition examines the interdisciplinary domains of art, literature, film, architecture, theatre and music and their personal and professional networks. Each chapter of the trilogy is intended to provide a non-exhaustive historical reading of these diverse, interconnected forms of expression, both intellectual and artistic, the generations of artists and their relationship to socio-political struggles for freedom. Through artwork, archives, and publications, this exhibition provides a new expanded framework for reading art histories in Morocco that is non-linear, transnational, and political.

The first chapter covers the period 1950-1969, during the struggle for independence and following forty years of French and Spanish colonial rule, presenting historical works that defined new tendencies of anti-colonial art practices in the 1960s, including a radical revision of the Fine Art Schools with a futurist perspective, among them: Chaibia Talal and Mohamed Melehi.

Mohammed Melehi, IBM Song , 1963 . Acrylic on canvas. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
Mohammed Melehi, IBM Song , 1963 . Acrylic on canvas. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha

The second period, from 1970-1999, encompasses the so-called Years of Lead, and is among the most violent in Morocco’s recent history, including the uprisings of 1981 and 1984 as a consequence of the political and economic crisis. This chapter introduces some the most experimental works that remained for decades, as many artists and intellectuals worked in secret or adopted strategies of resistance to the market and the established podiums, while the state initiated art festivals in major cities. The 2nd Arab Biennial took place in Rabat in 1976, and was followed by the Asilah Festival, which is still taking place today.

The third period from 2000-2020, focuses on the work of artists and activists, marking the rise of populist political parties, the Casablanca terrorist attacks in 2003 and the Arab Spring, defining an era of radical change, mass uprising and technological development. The generation of artists, who emerged during this period broke away from their predecessors. The Generation 00 artists look at social realities with immediate and live updates about the world, work with new media practices, and operate in a post-internet world. They created new spaces in Tangiers, Rabat, Casablanca and inspired a new generation of Moroccan artists and authors now working on a global scale.

Farid Belkahia, Sevisses, 1961. Mixed media on paper on wood. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
Farid Belkahia, Sevisses, 1961. Mixed media on paper on wood. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
Mounir Fatmi, Aljazeera, 2007. Antenna cable on wood. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
Mounir Fatmi, Aljazeera, 2007. Antenna cable on wood. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha

 

 

The exhibition Moroccan Trilogy 1950-2020 has been organised within the framework of the programme for cultural cooperation between Spain and Morocco in the field of Museums, an initiative fostered by the National Foundation of Museums of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Ministry of Culture and Sport of the Government of Spain, in collaboration with Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art – Qatar Museums and Qatar Foundation.

 

 

Ahmed Ben Driss el Yacoubi, Portrait in Smoke, 1963. Oil on canvas. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
Ahmed Ben Driss el Yacoubi, Portrait in Smoke, 1963. Oil on canvas. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
Excerpt from Ali Essafi's documentary film, Before the Dying of the Light. (c) Ali Essafi
Excerpt from Ali Essafi’s documentary film, Before the Dying of the Light. (c) Ali Essafi

The exhibition runs until the 27th of September.

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