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Article

W. Ali

[Bilkahīyya, Farīd]

(b Marrakesh, Nov 15, 1934).

Moroccan painter. He began painting at the age of 15, and from 1954 to 1959 attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied the work of Georges Rouault and Paul Klee. He was then sent on a scholarship to study theatrical design in Czechoslovakia. Upon his return to Morocco in 1962, he was appointed director of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Casablanca (1962–74), where he introduced classes in the principles of Arabic calligraphy, which he believed could be utilized in modern painting. In 1964 Belkahia and the artists Mohammed Melehi and Mohamed Chebaa (b 1935) formed what became known as the ‘Casablanca Group’. They replaced models of Greek statues and still-life paintings at the Ecole with reproductions of Moroccan handicrafts, and taught their students to draw geometric forms and design jewellery and carpets. Their aim was to close the gap between craft and art, and break away from imported academic teachings and the naive painting tradition of the past. In his own work, Belkahia began to use such materials as beaten brass, leather, henna, saffron and natural dyes. He developed a distinct style, producing paintings on hand-stretched leather that incorporated popular signs and motifs, numbers, Arabic calligraphy and characters taken from Berber script. In his later work he turned to erotic themes while using this style and medium (e.g. untitled, henna on wood and leather, ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Boujad, Oct 2, 1934; d Casablanca, Aug 17, 1967).

Moroccan painter. He studied in Paris at the Ecole des Métiers d’Art from 1956 to 1959 and in 1960 enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. During this period he also had his first solo exhibition, at the Atelier Lucienne Thalheimer in Paris (1959). In 1961 he received a scholarship to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw for one year and while there exhibited work at the Krzywe Koło Gallery. On returning to Paris, he began to research the signs and motifs of Moroccan art with a bursary from UNESCO. These studies inspired his paintings, which he continued to exhibit regularly in one-man shows in Casablanca, Paris, Rabat, Tangiers and Karlstad, Sweden. He also exhibited work at numerous group exhibitions, including the Salon de Mai, Paris. In his early paintings he was inspired by the art of Klee and Roger Bissière, and he worked on small collages of jute, a technique that Klee had used. From ...

Article

Moroccan, 20th century, male.

Born 1924, near Marrakech.

Painter. Figures.

Symbolism.

The absence of figurative representation in much traditional Islamic art is less the result of a religious ban than a symptom of the religion's symbolic relationship with the world. Drissi's painting is characterised by this ambiguity: in painting figures in given situations, he nevertheless strips them of their bodily appearance, creating strictly hieratic shapes cloaked either in a burnous or a djellaba, featureless faces, and oppressive, empty surrounds where the living are never far from the grave....

Article

Tunisian, 20th century, male.

Born 8 November 1942, in Gabes.

Painter, draughtsman.

Abdelmajid El Bekri studied art in a number of different countries, including France, Holland, Italy and Russia.

He remained faithful to the Islamic artistic tradition of organic architectural decoration but enriched it with his own imagination. His is an extremely refined art form, and combines tradition with invention and modernity....

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Tripoli, Libya, 1945).

Libyan painter. He returned to Libya in 1970 after graduating from the Plymouth School of Architecture and Design in England. In 1974 he was appointed consultant to the Festival of Islam in London, and in 1981 he settled in England. He typically uses individual letter forms based on the maghribī style of script typical of North Africa, setting one or two large letters against a richly textured abstract ground with accompanying excerpts from Arabic and world literature that address social and moral issues. His works have been exhibited in more than 60 solo and group exhibitions and can be found in many major museums. Chairman of Muslim Cultural Heritage Center in London, he has also been involved with several other cultural and intellectual institutions there.

A. O. Ermes: Ali Omar Ermes: Art and Ideas: Works on Paper (exh. cat., Oxford, Ashmolean, 1992)A. O. Ermeswith S. Rizvi: Reaching Out: Conversations on Islamic Art with Ali Omar Ermes...

Article

[Isyākhim, M’hammad]

(b Djennad, nr Azzefoun, 1928; d Algiers, Dec 1, 1985).

Algerian painter. Wounded by a home-made bomb in 1943, his left arm was amputated and he was hospitalized for two years. From 1947 to 1951 he studied first at the Société des Beaux-Arts and then at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Algiers, while simultaneously training in miniature painting with Omar Racim (1883–1958). In 1953 he continued his studies at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he worked in the painting atelier of Raymond Legueult (1898–1978), graduating in 1958. While in Paris, Issiakhem witnessed the development of Abstract Expressionism and other artistic styles, which he quickly adopted. A pioneer of modern Algerian art, he was one of the founders of the Algerian National Union of Plastic Arts in 1963 and held exhibitions in Algeria and abroad. Attracted by left-wing ideas, he travelled to Vietnam in 1972 and Moscow in 1978. In his work, male figures are surrounded by forms, signs and blotches in sombre colours, while his female figures express drama and silent suffering (e.g. ...

Article

Michael Curschmann

The medieval term mappa mundi (also forma mundi, historia/istoire) covers a broad array of maps of the world of which roughly 1100 survive. These have resisted systematic classification, but the clearly dominant type is one that aims at comprehensively symbolistic representation. Its early, schematic form is a disc composed of three continents surrounded and separated from one another by water (“T-O Map”) and associated with the three sons of Noah: Asia (Shem) occupies all of the upper half, Europe (Japhet) to the left and Africa (Ham) to the right share the lower half. Quadripartite cartographic schemes included the antipodes as a fourth continent, but the tripartite model was adopted by the large majority of the more developed world maps in use from the 11th century on and—with important variations—well into the Renaissance. While details were added as available space permitted, the Mediterranean continued to serve as the vertical axis and, with diminishing clarity, the rivers Don and Nile as the horizontal one. The map also continues to be ‘oriented’ towards Asia, where paradise sits at the very top. A circular ocean forms the perimeter and not infrequently the city of Jerusalem constitutes its centre....

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Asilah, Nov 22, 1936).

Moroccan painter and graphic artist. He studied art in Morocco at the Escuela Preparatoria de Bellas Artes in Tétouan between 1953 and 1955, then in Seville and Madrid, as well as at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome, at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and at Columbia University, NY. After the independence of Morocco in 1956 its painters began to search for a national and cultural identity, and Melehi was among the leaders of this movement. He taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Casablanca from 1964 to 1969, along with fellow Moroccan artists Farid Belkahia and Mohamed Chebaa (b 1935).

As one of the ‘Casablanca Group’ Melehi objected to the foreign monopoly of artistic thought in Morocco, and organized the first exhibition of this group in 1965. He also organized the Exposition manifeste in the Jama‛ al-Fna Square in Marrakesh in 1969. Along with 39 other Moroccan painters, such as Belkahia, Chebaa, Moustapha Hafid (...

Article

Namibian, 20th century, male.

Born 1943, in Etunda io Nghadi, Angola; died 27 November 1987.

Engraver, painter. Religious subjects. Designs for tapestries.

John Ndevasia Muafangejo was born in Ovamboland in southern Angola in a village of the Kwanjama region which straddles the Namibian border. When his father died in ...

Article

[Muḥammad]

(b Alexandria, 1888; d Cairo, 1956).

Egyptian painter. He was educated at the Université de Lyon in France, where he studied law, and also at the School of Fine Arts, Cairo, and at Giverny under Monet. During the 1920s he worked for the Egyptian diplomatic service at embassies abroad, but increasingly devoted himself to painting, developing an Impressionist style and in 1927 becoming a member of a group of artists in Cairo called La Chimère, which included the sculptor Mahmud Mukhtar, and the painters Mahmud Said and Raghib Ayyad (1892–1982). Among his paintings of this period was the canvas mural The Village (1928; Alexandria, Mus. F.A. & Cult. Cent.). In 1930, not long after a diplomatic mission in Brazil, he left for Abyssinia [now Ethiopia], where he spent a year at the embassy in Addis Ababa. He studied the landscape of the country and painted portraits of Emperor Haile Selassie I (reg...

Article

[Ṣalaḥī, Ibrāhīm al-]

(b Omdurman, 1930).

Sudanese painter. After studying at the School of Design at Gordon Memorial College in Khartoum (1948–51), he worked as an art teacher at Wadi Seidna Secondary School near Omdurman. In 1954 he was sent on a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art in London, and while in Europe he visited Florence to enhance his knowledge of Renaissance art. In 1957 he returned to Sudan and became head of the Painting Department at the College of Fine and Applied Art in Khartoum. In 1962 he was sent by UNESCO on a tour to the USA, South America, Paris and London. After returning to Sudan, he searched for a Sudanese artistic identity by travelling throughout the country recording local architecture and designs used in the decoration of such items as utensils and prayer rugs. He also explored Coptic manuscripts, trying to discover the arts of African Sudan through them. During this same period he became fascinated by the ingenuity of Islamic art. His previous knowledge of Coptic manuscripts led him to experiment with Arabic calligraphy, which he saw as both a means of communication and a pure aesthetic form. In the 1950s he was one of the first Arab artists to include Arabic calligraphy and signs in his paintings. After political imprisonment in his country he lived in exile in England and Qatar, where he was an adviser on communications to the Emir. Working in all media, he defined his Arab–African heritage by synthesizing Arabic calligraphy with African forms. His work is in collections in New York (Met.; MOMA), Melbourne (N.G. Victoria), Newcastle, NSW (Reg. A.G.) and Berlin (Neue N.G.)....

Article

Tunisian, 20th century, male.

Active in France since 1974.

Born 1944.

Painter.

Foued Zaouche went to Paris to study painting in 1976. Inspired by religion and the bizarre in a style that sometimes verges on science fiction, he presents disturbing visions on neutral backgrounds, towns with empty buildings and deserted landscapes with no vegetation, such as ...