Esoteric Writings

Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, Marrakesh, Morocco
27 Sep 2018 - 06 Jan 2019

View of artworks by John Goba and Houssein Miloudi during the exhibition Esoteric Writings © Saad Alami

View of artworks by John Goba and Houssein Miloudi during the exhibition Esoteric Writings © Saad Alami

After the great success of its inaugural exhibitions Africa Is No Island and Second Life (27 February – 29 July 2018), the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL), Marrakech, is pleased to announce the opening of its new exhibition, Esoteric Writings.

The exhibition Esoteric Writings is an invitation to a personal interpretation of singular artworks from all quarters of the African continent.

These artists – whether self-taught or formally trained – endeavour to reclaim some heritage threatened by oblivion or other animist aesthetic through the exploration of properties of wood (Prince Twins Seven-Seven, Ali Maimoun, El Anatsui, Ahmed Chiha, Abderrahim Trifis), or the mythologisation of textile (Abdoulaye Konaté, Joël Andrianomearisoa). Each of the artists in the exhibition proposes his or her own visual language. If an exact decryption of the graphic (Abdelmalek Berhiss, Najia Mehadji), numerary (Marcel Gotène, Houssein Miloudi), or literary (Frédéric Bruly Bouabré) codes might escape the casual viewer, one needs no cultural or religious references to appreciate the narrative force and formal power behind these works.

Esoteric Writings thus brings together nearly thirty artists with as many visual and sound expressions that derive their essence from mythology, cosmology, or mysticism, each inspired by the culture of origin of its creator.

The exhibition also represents an opportunity to pay homage to Boujemâa Lakhdar, renowned ethnologist from the Essaouira (Morocco) region and the only artist to have represented the Maghreb in the groundbreaking exhibition Magiciens de la Terre (Centre Georges-Pompidou, 1989). Through his interest into the bonds between the region’s inhabitants as well as spiritual and esoteric aspects of Jewish-Arab and Amazigh culture, Lakhdar funnels his attraction to magic and the supernatural into a formidable and multidimensional body of work (Astrolabe musical, 1985, Le Totem de la Pensée, 1987, Table-Aigle, 1983).

So, from the souiri painters of Essaouira (Mohammed Tabal, Ali Maimoun, Regragui Bouslaï) to the Oshogbo school – at the centre of Yoruba civilisation – as represented by Prince Twins Seven-Seven, not to mention the Poto-Poto school from which Marcel Gotène (Congo) emerged as a major figure, Esoteric Writings reconfigures the fantastic, symbolic, and spiritual universe as if to reconstruct a secular past through powerful visual allegories.

Esoteric Writings presents a group of creators from multiple backgrounds, working in diverse mediums yet born of the same land, and in so doing proposes to reveal the hidden underpinnings of their common history.

El Anatsui (Ghana), Joël Andrianomearisoa (Madagascar), Farid Belkahia (Morocco), Abdelmalek Berkhiss (Morocco), Regragui Bouslai (Morocco), Frédéric Bruly Bouabré (Ivory Coast), Ahmed Chiha (Morocco), Emo de Medeiros (France – Benin), Abdellah El Atrach (Morocco), Mohamed El baz (Morocco), John Goba (Sierra Leone), Marcel Gotène (Congo), Hassan Hajjaj (Morocco), Aissa Ikken (Morocco), Abdoulaye Konaté (Mali), Boujemâa Lakhdar (Morocco), Ahmed Louardiri (Morocco), Ali Maimoun (Morocco), Najia Mehadji (Morocco), Houssein Miloudi (Morocco), Zina Saro-Wiwa (Nigeria), Mohamed Tabal (Morocco), Prince Twins Seven Seven (Nigeria), Dominique Zinkpè (Benin)




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