Morocco’s ‘Art and Friendship’ salon builds synergy among artists

The salon included discussions, the most important of which was “The Reality of Arabic Calligraphy” attended by numerous well-known Moroccan calligraphers.
Sunday 24/11/2019
Artists take part in the “Art and Friendship Salon” in Marrakech.      (Al Arab)
Different art experiences. Artists take part in the “Art and Friendship Salon” in Marrakech. (Al Arab)

MARRAKECH - The first “Art and Friendship Salon” in Marrakech included plastic artists from Morocco and other Arab and foreign countries at a private art residence.

Iraqi artist Ali Rashid was the guest of honour at “Art and Friendship,” which included Mohammed al-Amiri from Jordan; Abdellah el-Haitout, Fouad al-Shardoudi, Bachir Amal, Aziz Azrhai, Shafiq al-Zogari, Abdel Aziz Laghraz from Morocco; Najat Dhahbi and Mohamed Amin Ben Hamouda from Tunisia; Adel Youssef from Azerbaijan; Pandora from Macedonia; and Ghada al-Hasan from Saudi Arabia.

The salon, organised by Moroccan artist Mounia Boutaleb, departed from the usual Arab commercial art symposia in that it brought together for panel discussions a small number of artists who are known for their talent in other fields such as poetry, criticism and philosophy.

“I wanted this salon to be a spontaneous meeting between the artists, so I chose names based on the friendships they had with each other,” said Boutaleb. “I had help from Iraqi artist Ali Rashid and Moroccan artist Bachir Amal.

“This salon helped me to develop my art experience as can be seen in the work I produced, which is quite different from my previous practice. All I’m interested in is to focus on the concept of participation and to leave behind closed and isolated spaces. We don’t need more evil in the world. So let’s share our love for art, each in his or her own way.”

The salon included discussions, the most important of which was “The Reality of Arabic Calligraphy” attended by numerous well-known Moroccan calligraphers. Artist Mohamed Boustane expounded on his Sufi experience with characters and meanings and how he has developed his images to access al-Hallaj’s metaphysical worlds.

Moroccan artist and writer Hassan Bourkia conducted a panel discussion titled “What is Artistic Creativity and How Do We Create?” He used Nietzsche’s saying that “we have art in order not to die of the truth” as the theme of his presentation. He spoke of the importance of learning about the unique experiences of creators to help understand the meaning of our existence.

Bourkia also talked about the importance of poetry and of modern poets Badr Shakir al-Sayyab and Aboul-Qacem Echebbi. He stressed the need to look deeply into the roots of art and its historical references.

“If I were asked one day to drink the strength of some work of art, I would have chosen Tunisian poet Aboul-Qacem Echebbi as a companion,” Bourkia said. “We must understand what we see today on the art scene by constantly revisiting the legacies of modernists and ancient traditionalists.

“There is no such thing as an artistic breakaway; there is only continuity and development. It is essential that we look at the history of art to be able to look at its future. It is essential to study the work of Raphael, Chirico, Caravaggio, Michelangelo and others and then we will be able to distinguish the light coming from the past, which is the only true and unique light.”

The salon, which took place November 3-10, was reminiscent of literary salons at the beginning of the Renaissance in Europe and continued as a productive tradition for dialogue between artistic creators, leading to the development of a variety of artistic and literary movements. The surrealist movement, for example, began with a gathering of writers and artists on one crazy idea.

The idea of the “Art and Friendship Salon” was to bring artists together for a limited time in the intimate confines of a small and pleasant space, giving them the opportunity to interact, share experiences and discuss issues of interest to Arab and international plastic artists.

The artists visited various art galleries in Marrakech to get an idea about the contemporary Moroccan art movement. The owner of the Design & Co gallery will host, in December, an exhibition of all paintings completed during the salon.

The meeting proved that painting and art are linked to the feelings and visual memory that are nourished by travels through the artistic and intellectual journeys of other artists. As artists forget the pressure of their usual plans and commitments and open up to the experiences of fellow artists, they develop their own experiences through serious exchanges and sincere participation.

Participants at the “Art and Friendship Salon” adopted the slogan “To Dream, Think and Create Collectively” and committed to collective creativity without hindrance of barriers, backgrounds or claims.

“I believe I’m a simple being who has to carry out his own message in this life without complications and then move on,” Shardoudi said. “We don’t have to be perfect but it is enough to accept our destinies and invest in them smoothly and spontaneously. To make it simple, I’m a child of this universe, born this moment, so I live this moment.”