Leading modernist artist Mohammed Melehi, whose work is currently on show at Mathaf: Museum of Modern Art as one of the Focus exhibitions, dedicated to pioneering regional artists, will present a lecture on his work as a painter, publisher, educator, and social activist on March 7 at 6:00 pm at Mathaf in Education City, Doha. The talk is being organised as part of Mathaf Talks, an ongoing series of public events where invited creative professionals engage in conversations and debates on art history and artistic practices locally and internationally.
During the event, Mr. Melehi will present a lecture on his personal experiences spanning his 60-year career, followed by a conversation with Mathaf Curator Laura Barlow. The discussion will touch on insights from the artist’s work in education, politics and community development that supported the growth of independent creative expression and critical thinking in artistic communities in Morocco.
The talk is organised in conjunction with the exhibition Mohammed Melehi: 1959-1971 currently on show at Mathaf, that focuses on the artist’s work during the 1960’s.
Commenting on the opportunity to interact with a prominent artistic figure, Abdellah Karroum, Director of Mathaf, said: “Beyond his painting, the breadth of Mr. Melehi’s career has been striking, in his teaching, publishing and policy roles. Giving an opportunity for the young generation of artists in Qatar and the region to learn from figures who have helped shape historical narratives is central to the role we want Mathaf to play in facilitating artistic dialogue across generations.”
Mr. Melehi’s distinguished career began when he first studied fine art in Morocco, Spain and France in the 1950’s and beginning of 1960’s, after which he became a professor of painting, sculpture and photography at the École des Beaux-Arts of Casablanca. Through his work as an artist, teacher and intellectual, Mr. Melehi consistently connected and explored language, geography and history, staking a claim for new forms of creative expression connecting the cultural heritage of Morocco’s past and future, with his works displayed as part of Focus speaking to some of these motifs.
Mohammed Melehi: 1959-1971 features 13 works from the Mathaf collection, including Formation (1959) and Al-Maghrib al-Aqṣá (The Farthest West) (1970-71), which trace Mr. Melehi’s curiosity with ideological, scientific and political systems in modern society. This perspective was shaped by formative periods living in Europe (1955-1962) and the USA (1962-64), before returning to Morocco in 1964, experiences that were grounded in the context of major geopolitical changes and events such as the Cold War, the independence of Morocco and Algeria, and the 1967 War.
Presented chronologically these works communicate a progressive use of colour and geometric shapes – from the line to the square, the wave, and the circle – that chart the making of a coded language confronting ideological contrasts between man-made and organic, the political left and right, the East and the West, and tradition and progress.
The Focus exhibition was recently unveiled as part of a major update to Mathaf’s permanent collection galleries, which opened last Fall. Entitled Mathaf Collection, Summary, Part 2, the new interpretation of the museum’s extensive collection brought together landmark artists and pivotal works that redefine modern and contemporary art practices and historical narratives.
The Mathaf Talks series is free to the public. For more information visit www.mathaf.org.qa