Dalloul Art Foundation

Dalloul Art Foundation

MOHAMMED CHEBAA MOHAMMED CHEBAA

MOHAMMED CHEBAA, Morocco (1935 - 2013)

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Bio

Written by Arthur Debsi

Born to a master mason father, in 1935 in Tangiers, Morocco, Mohammed Chebaa graduated from the École des Beaux-Arts in Tetouan in 1955. Particularly interested in architecture, and the work on space, he held the position of designer-draftsman, for construction projects within the architecture department of the Ministry of Sports and Youth. In 1962, he traveled to Italy on a government scholarship, and completed his studies with a specialty in interior design at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome from 1962 to 1964. In the Italian capital city, Chebaa was exposed to a rich artistic culture, and history, including urban landscape with outdoor sculptures, engravings, and paintings. The place truly resembled an open-air museum. He also had the chance to train under the mentorship of the Italian engineer, and architect Pierre Luigi Nervis (1891-1979); which led him to improve his practice. In 1964, he returned to Morocco, where he was assigned a mission to design a mural for the Pavilion of the National Irrigation Office, at the International Agricultural Fair of Casablanca[1]. Two years later, Mohammed Chebaa joined the newly formed pedagogical team, including Farid Belkahia (1934-2014), Mohamed Melehi (1936-), and Mohammed Hamidi (1941-), at the École des Beaux-Arts in Casablanca. From then on until 1969, he managed the atelier of decoration, graphic arts, and calligraphy at the institution. Following this time, he taught fine art at the École Nationale d’Architecture in Rabat in the 1980s, and was in parallel appointed artistic advisor in 1985, by Minister of Crafts, and Social Affairs, Mohamed Abied (1941-). He was responsible for managing the problems inherent to the art profession, traveling all around Morocco. Between 1994 and 1998, he eventually headed the Institut National des Beaux-Arts in Tetouan between 1994 and 1998. 

During the 1950s, Mohammed Chebaa went on a study trip to Grenada, Spain, where he visited the Alhambra Palace. The student was captivated by the refinement of Andalusia’s craftsmanship, and its architecture, to the extent that he was so moved. He understood the strength of traditional arts, which have an impact on the elaboration of taste, and the spirituality of each one[2].

In the late 1940s, schools of fine arts successively opened in Morocco, like the École des beaux-Arts in 1945 in Tetouan – part of the Spanish protectorate, and the École des Beaux-Arts in Casablanca in 1950. However, the styles, and techniques from Western art movements, were promoted, and widely spread by these establishments[3]. For example, students were asked to practice by reproducing models of ancient Greek statues, or still lifes[4]. When Farid Belkahia (1934-2014) became director at the École des Beaux-Arts in Casablanca in 1964, the teaching took another direction to promote, and transmit the cultural, and artistic local heritage. Part of this large-scale project, Mohammed Chebaa brought innovative concepts to build the Moroccan artistic identity, remaining attached to architecture. When in Italy, he was introduced to the German Bauhaus movement from the beginning of the 20thcentury, which tended to associate in its program both fine arts, and craft[5]. This approach also concerned architecture, dance, and painting. Since then, Chebaa started questioning the place of artworks, or artisan products, in Moroccan daily life, as well as their integration in the public space. He said: ‘At the time, we were far from perceiving a unique visual art form, or one which could lay claim to a universal set of plastic values, in the cladding of Moroccan architecture, the zelligeand chiseled plaster murals, in carved wood, (…), in short, in all the national, traditional forms of autonomous artworks’[6]. He subsequently came to the idea that these forms of art only belong to architectonic places like the mosques, and palaces[7]. Moreover, they are viewed as functional objects, or exposed for aesthetic purpose. According to him, this characteristic demonstrates a valuable know-how related to architecture, that had continued over time, and to which the future generation of Moroccan artists should maintain[8].

From this experience in Rome, Mohammed Chebaa theorized the notion of the ‘3A’, which combines art, architecture, and ‘artisanat’[9]into one discipline. He never stopped improving his knowledge, and skills in these three disciplines to apply this original notion. In the 1960s, he encountered the French architect Patrice de Mazières (1930-2020), established in Morocco, and owned the firm Faraoui & De Mazières. The latter showed a real enthusiasm for the pedagogical methods undertook by the new direction at the École des Beaux-Arts in Casablanca. The collaboration between the two establishments turned out to be very active. In 1968, Chebaa created the workshop called Studio 400, which was dedicated to general, and interior design practice. There, he worked on materials from traditional arts to create furniture, as well as making design for objects. He also founded the annual event Moussem National de l’Artisanat, which gathered craftsmen from all over the country, who would exhibit, and sell their products[10]. All these initiatives aimed to get the Moroccan audiences closer to their culture, which had to be integrated in their living environment[11].

The oeuvre of Mohammed Chebaa is the reflection of his passion for architecture, and handicraft, through a conceptual approach. In the works entitled Composition(1974), part of the Dalloul Art Foundation’s collection, he only used a white background, on which he articulated abstracted elements. The paintings somehow recall the ceramic tile panels, which are typical of the Islamic architectural art, and ceiling frescoes in the mosques. Yet, the reflection goes further, and highlights the visual power of the image, on the public’s eyes. There is a sense of organization, and disorganization in the compositions, when Chebaa chose to employ different geometrical forms such as the triangle, and the sphere, by putting them together. The pictorial ensemble evokes constructions, but seems to be more correlated to the gesture of the artist, and the movements of the lines, than the image itself. The work on colors is also interesting, since the painter only used pure ones, without mixing them. Farid Belkahia (1934-2014), Mohamed Melehi (1936-), and Mohammed Chebaa constituted a group named ‘Formes et Couleurs’ (‘Forms and Colors’), which placed them in opposition with the Naïve Art movement[12]. In their instigation, they effectively preferred to refuse any form of figuration, and focused on the form, and the colors. According to Chebaa, this was a method, which corresponds to a veritable, and dynamic research on plastic arts[13]. On another level, he affirmed the legitimate place of abstraction in modern Moroccan art, asserting in 1966: ‘(…) Some of our intellectuals now associate representational painting with Moroccan reality, unaware of the fact that the essence of our art was not and will never be representational, for there is nothing representational in either our Islamic art or our Berber art’[14].

Mohammed Chebaa characterized his art as a ‘social practice’[15], which materializes a sort of visual education for the community. In a postcolonial context, it was important for him to stimulate the artistic sensitivity of the people, in order to develop a national culture based on tradition. He reconciled the roles of the artist, and the artisan, to create what he called ‘position-works’ – artistic objects that participated in this process of intellectual emancipation. 

Mohammed Chebaa passed away in 2013. 


[1]
Chabaa, Nadia. “Chabâa's Concept of the ‘3 As’ - Articles.” bauhaus imaginista. Accessed June 23, 2020. http://www.bauhaus-imaginista.org/articles/2430/chabaa-s-concept-of-the-3-as.

[2]Chabaa, Nadia. “Chabâa's Concept of the ‘3 As’ - Articles.” bauhaus imaginista. Accessed June 23, 2020. http://www.bauhaus-imaginista.org/articles/2430/chabaa-s-concept-of-the-3-as.

[3]Ali, Wijdan. Modern Islamic Art: Development and Continuity. Gainesville, USA: University Press of Florida, 1997. [P.74]

[4]Ali, Wijdan. Modern Islamic Art: Development and Continuity. Gainesville, USA: University Press of Florida, 1997. [P.75]

[5]Universalis‎, Encyclopædia. “BAUHAUS.” Encyclopædia Universalis. Accessed June 26, 2020. https://www.universalis.fr/encyclopedie/bauhaus/.

[6]“À Propos · School of Casablanca.” School of Casablanca. Accessed June 23, 2020. https://schoolofcasablanca.com/fr/.

[7]Chabaa, Nadia. “Chabâa's Concept of the ‘3 As’ - Articles.” bauhaus imaginista. Accessed June 23, 2020. http://www.bauhaus-imaginista.org/articles/2430/chabaa-s-concept-of-the-3-as

[8]Chabaa, Nadia. “Chabâa's Concept of the ‘3 As’ - Articles.” bauhaus imaginista. Accessed June 23, 2020. http://www.bauhaus-imaginista.org/articles/2430/chabaa-s-concept-of-the-3-as.

[9]Chabaa, Nadia. “Chabâa's Concept of the ‘3 As’ - Articles.” bauhaus imaginista. Accessed June 23, 2020. http://www.bauhaus-imaginista.org/articles/2430/chabaa-s-concept-of-the-3-as.

[10]Chabaa, Nadia. “Chabâa's Concept of the ‘3 As’ - Articles.” bauhaus imaginista. Accessed June 23, 2020. 

[11]Mohammed" class="redactor-autoparser-object">http://www.bauhaus-imaginista.... Chebaa, Responses to the Souffles Artists’ Questionnaire (1967) in Lenssen, Anneka, A. Rogers, Sarah, and Shabout, Nada. Modern Art in the Arab World, Primary Documents. New York, USA: The Museum of Modern Art, 2018.

[12]Goldenberg, André. “1956 - 1986 : Trente Ans De Peinture Marocaine.” Cahiers De La Méditerranée, 1989. [P.48]

[13]Goldenberg, André. “1956 - 1986 : Trente Ans De Peinture Marocaine.” Cahiers De La Méditerranée, 1989. [P.54]

[14]Mohammed Chebaa, ‘On the Concept of Painting and the Plastic Language (1966)’ in Lenssen, Anneka, A. Rogers, Sarah, and Shabout, Nada. Modern Art in the Arab World, Primary Documents. New York, USA: The Museum of Modern Art, 2018. [P.264]

[15]Lakrissa, Fatima Zahra. “École Des Beaux-Arts De Casablanca (1964–1970) - Articles.” bauhaus imaginista. Accessed June 10, 2020. http://www.bauhaus-imaginista.org/articles/2413/e-cole-des-beaux-arts-de-casablanca-1964-1970?0bbf55ceffc3073699d40c945ada9faf=ppq3kadfmlm2tm02ime94tk3q0.

Sources

Ali, Wijdan. Modern Islamic Art: Development and Continuity. Gainesville, USA: University Press of Florida, 1997.

Aroussi, Moulim el., and Brahim Alaoui. Peinture Marocaine 1950-2010: Collection Elisabeth Bauchet-Bouhlal. Marrakech, Morocco: ES-SAADI Garden & Resort, 2010.

Chabaa, Nadia. “Chabâa's Concept of the ‘3 As’ - Articles.” bauhaus imaginista. Accessed June 23, 2020. http://www.bauhaus-imaginista.org/articles/2430/chabaa-s-concept-of-the-3-as.

Eigner, Saeb. Art of the Middle-East, Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World and Iran. London, UK: Merell Publishers Limited, 2011.

Goldenberg, André. “1956 - 1986 : Trente Ans De Peinture Marocaine.” Cahiers De La Méditerranée, 1989.

Lenssen, Anneka, A. Rogers, Sarah, and Shabout, Nada. Modern Art in the Arab World, Primary Documents. New York, USA: The Museum of Modern Art, 2018.

Meier, Prita, and Isabelle Montin. “Authenticity and Its Discontents | Cairn International,” 2013. https://www.cairn-int.info/article-E_MULT_053_0077--authenticity-and-its-discontents.htm.

Powers, Jean Holiday. “Published.” Casablanca School - Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, 2016. https://www.rem.routledge.com/articles/casablanca-school.

Sefrioui, Kenza. “La Revue Souffles (1966-1973): Quand Culture Rime Avec Politique.” Revue Interculturel/Francophonie, (Lecce, Alliance Française, n°16), Ss. Dir. Bernoussi Saltani : "Abdellatif Laâbi : Un Intellectuel Tout Simplement", 2009.

Lakrissa, Fatima Zahra. “École Des Beaux-Arts De Casablanca (1964–1970) - Articles.” bauhaus imaginista. Accessed June 10, 2020. http://www.bauhaus-imaginista.org/articles/2413/e-cole-des-beaux-arts-de-casablanca-1964-1970?0bbf55ceffc3073699d40c945ada9faf=ppq3kadfmlm2tm02ime94tk3q0.

“À Propos · School of Casablanca.” School of Casablanca. Accessed June 23, 2020. https://schoolofcasablanca.com/fr/.

Universalis‎, Encyclopædia. “BAUHAUS.” Encyclopædia Universalis. Accessed June 26, 2020. https://www.universalis.fr/encyclopedie/bauhaus/.

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CV

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2018

Retrospective CDG Foundation, Rabat, Morocco

2010

Mohamed Chabâa, L’Atelier 21, Casablanca, Morocco

2007

Venise Cadre Gallery, Casablance, Morocco

2005

Chabaa peintre, Chabaa sculpteur, Delacroix Gallery, Tangier, Morocco

2004

National Gallery, Bab Rouah, Rabat, Morocco

2001

Retrospective at the Mohammed V National Theater, Rabat, Morocco

1999

Rotterdam, Netherlands; Brussels, Charleroi, Belgium

1998

National Gallery, Bab rouah, Rabat, Morocco

1997

National Gallery, Bab rouah, Rabat, Morocco

1996

French Institute of Tetouan, Tangier and El Jadida, Morocco

1994

Venise Cadre Gallery, Casablance, Morocco

1993

Mural for chicago airport terminal, Chicago, USA

1992

Cairo Biennale, Egypt. Critic's Award

1984

L’Atelier Gallery, Rabat, Morocco
Nadar Gallery, Casablanca, Morocco

1983

L’Atelier Gallery, Rabat, Morocco

1974

Retrospective L’Atelier Gallery, Rabat, Morocco
Retrospective Nadar Gallery, Casablanca, Morocco

Selected Group Exhibitions

2020

Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950-1980s, Grey Art Gallery, New York, US

2019

Musée Imaginaire, Comptoir des Mines Galerie, the former premises of "Bank Al     Maghrib" on Jemaa el Fna square, Morocco

2018

A Century in Flux, Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, UAE
Revolution Generations, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar
Farid Belkahia et l’École des beaux-arts de Casablanca 1962-1974, Mathaf Farid Belkahia, Casablance, Morocco

2017

E-Mois, Autobiography of a Collection, Museum of African and Contemporary Art,      Marrakesh, Morocco

2015

Modern Arab Masterpieces, ESPACE CLAUDE LEMAND, Paris, France
Past Disquiet, Narratives and Ghosts from The International Art Exhibition for Palestine, 1978, MACBA, Barcelona, Spain

2014

Exposition Inaugurale, 1914 - 2014 Cent ans de création, MUSEE MOHAMMED VI d’Art Moderne & Contemporain, Rabat, Morocco

2004

Sculpture plurielle, headquarters of Société Générale Marocaine des Banques, Casablanca

2003

Agdal cultural center, Rabat

1992

Dessins, Al Manar gallery, Casablanca, Morocco

1990

4th Hispano-Arab meeting in Almunecar, Spain

1989

Contemporary Moroccan Art, Madrid, Spain

1987

Six Moroccan artists, Metropolitan Gallery, Sao Paulo, Brazil

1986

Contemporary Moroccan Art, Madrid, Spain

1985

Présences Artistiques du Maroc, Maison de la Culture, Grenoble, France
19 Moroccan painters, Museum of Contemporary Arts, Grenoble, France
19 Moroccan painters, Museum of African and Mediterranean Arts, Paris, France

1980

10 ans à l’atelier, National Gallery, Bab rouah, Rabat, Morocco
Petits formats du Maghreb et du Machreq, L’Atelier Gallery, Rabat, Morocco

1978

The International Art Exhibition for Palestine, Beirut, Lebanon

1976

2nd Arab Biennale, Rabat, Morocco

1974

First Arab Biennial, Baghdad, Iraq
L’art marocain dans les collections privées, Nadar Gallery, Casablanca, Morocco

1969

Exposition Manifeste, Djemaa al-Fna, Marrakech, Morocco

1966

Belkahia, Chebaa, Melehi, Hall du Théatre Mohammed V, Rabat, Morocco

1963

Pittori Arabi, entro Italo-Arabo, Roma, Italy

1958

Arab Painting, Washington DC, USA
Second Biennale of Alexandria, Egypt

1957

Moroccan painters in Tunis, Tunisia

Collections

Attijariwafa bank (AWB), Morocco
Ministry of Culture, Morocco
Chicago Airport, USA
Hassan II Foundation, Morocco
ONA Fondation, Casablanca, Morocco
Bank Al Maghrib, Morocco
Barjeel art foundation Sharjah, UAE
Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar
Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul art foundation, Beirut, Lebanon
l'Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France

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Documents

Exposition Inaugurale, 1914- 2014, Cent ans de création
Fondation Nationale des Musées, French

Press kit

Mohammed Chabaa
Atelier 21, French, 2010

Exhibition Catalog

The modern art movement in Morocco
Mohammed Chebaa
Mohammed Chebaa website, English
Popular arts and national identity
Mohammed Chebaa
English
A militant friendship
Mohamed Melehi
Mohammed Chabaa website, English, 2017
Creation, Research, Commitment
Toni Maraini
Mohammed Chabaa website, English, 2017
Chabaa’s gesture
Abdelatif Laâbi
Mohammed Chabaa website, English, 2010
Chabâa’s le Concepte des “3 As”
NADIA CHABAÂ
Bauhauss Imaginisita, French, 2001
Chabâa’s Concept of the “3 As”
NADIA CHABAÂ
Bauhauss Imaginisita, English, 2001
La galerie L'Atelier : le musée sans murs du modernisme
Murad Montazami
Perspective, English, 2017
L'art plastique au Maroc - Revues Scientifiques Marocaines
Ratib Soujaa
Revues Imist, French, 2018
Authenticity and its discontents Making modernist art histories “African” and “Middle Eastern”
Sandy Prita Meier, Isabelle Montin
Multitudes Volume 53, English, 2013
Decolonizing Culture: Third World, Moroccan, and Arab Art in Souffles/Anfas, 1966-1972*
Claire Davis
Essays of the Forum Transregionale Studien, English, 2015
École des Beaux-Arts de Casablanca (1964–1970) Fonctions de l’Image et Facteurs Temporels
FATIMA-ZAHRA LAKRISSA
Bauhauss Imaginisita, French
التشكيل العربي الرؤى المشتركة وشهوة المعاصرة
TALAL J MOUALLA
Academia, Arabic
Farid Belkahia et l’École des beaux-arts de Casablanca, L'invention d'une autre Modernité
Brahim Alaoui
Diptyk n°46, French, 2018
The Casablanca School of Fine Arts
Marrakach Biennale 6, English/French, 2016

Exhibition Catalogue Marrakech Biennale 6rn

The Casablanca School of Fine Arts: Belkahia, Chabâa, Melehi and the Fabrication of Art and History
Marrakach Biennale 6, English/French, 2016

Exhibition Catalogue Marrakech Biennale 6rn

Ecole de Casablanca مدرســــة الدارالبيضـــــاء
Marrakach Biennale 6, English/Arabic, 2016

Exhibition Catalogue Marrakech Biennale 6rn

Visual Arts in the Kingdom of Morocco
Samir El Azhar
Third Text, English, 2016
Taking Moroccan Art to the Streets: Ephemeral Engagement and Sustained Community Practices
Katarzna Piepzrak
Sternberg Press, English/French, 2012
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Press

Ouverture du premier musée d’art moderne et contemporain au Maroc
L'Orient Le Jour, French, 2014
محمد شبعة: الاشتراكي بالألوان
Omar Oshun
Al Awsat, Arabic
Mohamed Chebâa range son chevalet pour toujours
Libe. Ma, French, 2013
Le marché de l’art au Maroc : Modes, artistes, argent et cotes fluctuantes
Abdelhak Najib
V.H Magazine, French, 2015
محمد شبعة: الفنّ المغربي يفقد أحد آبائه
Mohammed Al Khdeiry
Al Akhbar, Arabic, 2013
واكب تأسيس التجربة التشكيلية المغربية . محمد شبعة : ما بعد الحداثة وأسرار اللوحة
Noureddine Afia
Al Hayat, Arabic, 1999
School of Casablanca
KW Institut for Contemporary Art, Sharjah Art Foundation, Goethe-Institut Marokko and Think Art, French
الفن التشكيلي المغربي بين سجن الهوية ورهان الحداثة
Mohammed Al Shawi
Al Mothaqaf, Arabic, 2015
الفن التشكيلي في حداد..رحيل شبعة الذي أرسى الحداثة الفنية في المغرب
Jalid Mohammed
Al Yaoum, Arabic, 2013
School of Casablanca
KW Institut for Contemporary Art, Sharjah Art Foundation, Goethe-Institut Marokko and Think Art, Arabic
تجربة الفنان التشكيلي المغربي محمد شبعة - البحث عن روافد عالمية متعددة للإبداع
Abd El Rahman Ben Lahmar
Forum Actif, Arabic, 2010
فنانون خلف القضبان/التشكيلي المغربي محمد شبعة
Rida Al Araji
Riyad Noureddine, Arabic
رحيل الفنان التشكيلي المغربي محمد شبعة
Ibrahim Al Hussein
Al Quds, Arabic, 2013
التشكيلي محمد شعبة يعيش في جدارياته
Faisal Abdel Hassan
Akhbar Al Khaleej, Arabic
المسرح الفردي في الوطن العربي
Al Farjah, Arabic, 2015
في رحيل الفنان التشكيلي محمد شبعة: بصمات لونية متعددة المعاني
Ibrahim Al Hussein
al Quds, Arabic, 2013
محمد شبعة (1935ـ2013) الفنان الثائر
Mohammed Khasif
El Sada, Arabic
BOOK REVIEW: Moulin El Aroussi, ‘Visual Arts in the Kingdom of Morocco’
Samir El Azhar
Third text, English
Une exposition pour redécouvrir Farid Belkahia et l'Ecole des Beaux-arts de Casablanca
Houssam Hatim
Tel Quel.ma, French, 2018
Belkahia et l’École des Beaux-Arts…
Les eco. Ma, French, 2018
Mohamed Chabâa : L’art de la peinture gestuelle
Aujoird'hui Ma, French, 2007
Chabâa peint la transparence
Le Matin ma, French, 2007
La quête perpétuelle de Mohamed Chabâa
Le Matin ma, French, 2010
محمد شبعة ب «ATELIER 21»
Aziz Al Hallaj
Magress-Al Itihad, Arabic, 2010
RABAT. EXPOSITION RÉTROSPECTIVE EN HOMMAGE À MOHAMMED CHABÂA À LA CDG
Khalil Ibrahimi
Le 360, French, 2018
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Videos

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Exhibitions

MOHAMMED CHEBAA Artwork

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