Moucharabieh, Gray on Black
signed, titled, inscribed and dated 'MELEHI 2020 Moucharabieh OB1 Grey on black' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
59 x 4714in. (150 x 120cm.)
Painted in 2020
Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai.
Private Collection, UAE.
Dubai, Lawrie Shabibi, Upsurge: Waves, Colours and Illusion, 2020.
London, Cromwell Place, Lawrie Shabibi: Arabian Moucharabieh, 2020.
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Lot Essay

Mouchrabieh is a recent work by Mohamed Melehi depicting iconic wave patterns in striking gold and black, and painted in the same year he passed away. The work is a beautiful example of the artist’s approach to reframing the wave which he had identified as a fundamental signifier in most Afro-Arab visual cultures and integrating this concept with architectural elements and local craftsmanship —in this case through the Mashrabiya. Mashrabiyas are produced by craftsman with a technique of turned wood used to produce lattice-like patterns adorning windows, doors and panels in traditional domestic architecture. Throughout homes across the Islamic world, including Morocco, the mashrabiya screen is not only visually captivating but also a spiritual Islamic element for privacy and contemplation.
Clear-cut colours and radical geometry are a testimony of Melehi’s fascination with Moroccan arts, crafts and architecture as well as the Hard Edge painters of the 1960s he encountered in New York early in his career. Teaching at the Casablanca School from 1964-1969, he encouraged his students to go on field trips to study Berber crafts and architecture in order to seek an alternative approach to Moroccan modernism through the visual arts. Melehi created in-situ reliefs, large scale frescoes and furniture design for hotel lobbies, banks, restaurant rooms or garden spaces, shaping his own view of 'integrated art' that was both minimalist, grassroots and ‘postcolonial in architecture’. He would go on to collaborate with studio Faraoui & De Mazières since the beginning of the 1970s, among other architects. Melehi was equally as involved in the development of mural paintings and urban design, most notably at the Asilah Arts Festival (which he co-founded in northern Morocco in 1978). This festival constitutes one of the many platforms created by Melehi and the Casablanca Art School generation, to compensate the lack of visibility for local artists; to contribute to the social project where art meets life; to synthesize painting, landscape, and architecture - something he also attributed to Bauhaus philosophy interconnecting art, architecture and design within everyday life.

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