(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, ...