Mohamed Melehi (Moroccan, b. 1936)
Two Works: African Wave III, 1969 and Untitled [Arc], 1969
Wave signed, dated, and inscribed "MELEHI 1969. Casablanca" on the reverse
and identified on a label affixed to the stretcher; Arc signed, dated, and inscribed "MELEHI 69 CASABLANCA" on the reverse; acrylic on canvas, sizes to 36 x 42 in. (91.4 x 106.7 cm), Wave framed, Arc unframed.
Condition: Wave with minor abrasions l.r., minor surface grime, craquelure; Arc with minor canvas deformation, abrasions, water staining, craquelure.
Provenance: Sold to benefit the Temple Beth Israel and St. James Catholic Church, both of Danielson, Connecticut.
N.B. Melehi attended the Escuela Preparatoria de Bellas Artes in Tétouan--the first school dedicated to fine art in Morocco--between 1953 and 1955. He continued his artistic training abroad at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and at Columbia University in New York. Upon returning to Morocco, he taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Casablanca from 1964 to 1969.
Melehi is credited with founding the "Casablanca Group," which formed in response to Morocco's political independence from France and Spain in 1956. In a spirit of nationalist pride, Melehi and his colleagues rejected the Orientalist approach of their colonizers and promoted indigenous Arab culture and motifs in art, as derived from calligraphy and local crafts. Melehi organized the first exhibition of the Casablanca Group in 1965. (1)
Melehi has been instrumental in promoting an indigenous art movement in Morocco by organizing shows and serving in leadership positions over several decades. He organized the "Exposition-Manifeste" in Marrakech's Jamaa el-Fnaa Square in 1969, helped to establish the Moroccan Association of Plastic Arts (AMAP) in 1972, served as president of the Moroccan Association of Plastic Arts from 1976 to 1982, served as Director of Arts at the Ministry of Culture, Rabat, and helped to create the annual Asilah Festival of Culture as well as the Musée d'Art Contemporain in Tangier (2).
1. S.J. Vernoit, "Melehi, Mohammed," In Grove Art Online, Oxford Art Online, http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T056646.
Wave with scattered abrasions to center and lower center, stretcher bar marks, craquelure primarily to lower center, varnish imperfections, mild canvas deformation u.r. corner, which would benefit from keying out. Arc with horizontal staining across the middle, water staining to the reverse, scattered accretions, abrasions, and scuffing, craquelure particularly to white pigment, paint losses along perimeter, canvas deformation l.l. quadrant. Vertical stretcher bar mark through the center.