Dalloul Art Foundation

Dalloul Art Foundation

MOHAMMED KACIMI MOHAMMED KACIMI

MOHAMMED KACIMI, Morocco (1942 - 2003)

+-

Bio

Written by Wafa Roz

Born in 1942 in Meknes, Morocco, Mohamed Kacimi was a painter and writer whose nomadic lifestyle led him to find poetic wonder in new places, experiences, people and environments. He was an avid reader and an avant-garde thinker with an early interest in visual and performance art. Having studied Arabic literature at the University of Fes, where he enrolled in 1960, Kacimi was essentially a self-taught painter; he only briefly studied painting in 1963, when he was granted a year-long scholarship to Paris’s ABC School of Art. In 1972, Kacimi began writing for various journals and newspapers in Morocco and the Arab world and became the founding member of the journal Alischara (Signs) as well as a member of the Association Marocaine des Arts Plastiques.

Kacimi’s artistic career was sparked by a revelation in 1959, when the young artist first laid eyes on the works of Jilali Gharbaoui in Meknes. He was captivated by Gharbaoui’s audacious approach and highly gestural technique. Four years later, Gharbaoui would become his close friend and mentor, encouraging Kacimi to explore the world. From 1964 to 1968, the artist toured Europe, discovering the drama of the Spanish golden age, the classical revival of the Italian quattrocento, and the vibrant realism of early modern Flemish art. He visited the Louvre in Paris, returning over and over again to explore the work of the Old Masters and the department of Egyptian art, which fascinated him the most. During this time, he also familiarized himself with the work of renowned Western artists of the 20th century, including Nicolas de Staël, Afro Basaldella, Hans Hartung, and Georges Rouault, which played a key role in the development of his style. Though he learned much from his time in Europe, he did not lose touch with the Arab art world, maintaining close contact with several influential artists such as Jewad Selim, Ismael Fattah, Ahmad Cherkaoui and Dia Al-Azzawi.

Kacimi’s unique artistic style is most celebrated for its mystical elements, with his canvases featuring haunting, often indistinct figures set against abstract backgrounds of varying contrasts. In his early stages, from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s, he adopted abstractions of different leanings, beginning with a loose, vibrant, lyrical style and later investing in earth-toned compositions of strong lines and bold geometrical shapes. Nearing the 1980s, his style shifted drastically. He abandoned oil paint almost entirely, taking up acrylic-based paints and creating the blue pigment that would become iconic of his work. In 1979, the artist moved to the coastal town of Harhoura-Temara with his wife, Noëlle Piron, and their daughter Batoul. Inspired by the waves of the Atlantic against the Moroccan shore, Kacimi discovered new windows into the world, creating a series of paintings entitled “Les Océanides” that featured graphical reverberations of footsteps traveling away from the vista of his painting to an unknown destination. He integrated fingerprints, visa stamps and texts within a gridded composition and an earthy palette, depicting the difficulty of migration. His paintings developed into wild, bright calligraphic forms that splashed on loose hanging canvases.

Following a voyage into the deserts of Morocco and the Atlas Mountains, the 1990s were the artist’s most creative and prolific years. During this time, he created “Les Atlassides,” a haunting series inspired by the ancient civilization of the Amazigh (Berbers). Drawing on cave art, this work evidences primitivism and spontaneity whilst maintaining confidence and mastery of composition. In densely textured gestural strokes, Kacimi introduced eerie ghostlike bodies that wander his canvas as if in search of a getaway. Another body of work entitled “Le Temps des Conteurs” tells the stories of his travels in sub-Saharan Africa, marking Kacimi’s signature style. Characterized by an economy of line and simplicity of form, this work features shapeless bodies floating in an open space with symbolic figures, texts, and codes, its color scheme dominant in ochre, burnt orange, black and blue. The almost paradoxical relationship between his dark tonalities and his soft lines ultimately imbues the work with its originality. During this period, Kacimi experimented with different materials, introducing paper, bitumen, chicken wire, and plaster into his canvas. His art portrayed an existential struggle and reflected on his relationship to the figure of ‘’the demiurge’’- the creator. A cosmic feel governed his last works, almost giving the sense that the artist anticipated an interplanetary journey between the spiritual and the material.

Kacimi would have painted the world if he could. In 1992, he presented a project at the 4th Cairo Biennale entitled Éloge de I ‘imagination-La Pyramide bleu that proposed projecting color onto the Pyramids of Giza via laser light, essentially ‘painting’ the pyramids blue. This was deemed unacceptable, with detractors protesting that it would disturb the soul of the Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops); no one, it was argued, messes with the holy wonders of the ancient world. Kacimi responded sarcastically in Egyptian Arabic, “Koullo illa el haram ya Kacimi” – “Anything but the blasphemous, Kacimi.”

Towards the end of his life, Kacimi engaged in public art projects, urban installations, and performances, expressing a commitment to making art accessible to ordinary people. For instance; he painted abstract murals on the houses of Assila during the annual art Moussem (festival) in Morocco, and portraits on huge baskets fixed on the shore of Ouida in Benin. Similarly, in 1996, at the Maison de la Culture in Bourges, France, Kacimi executed three iconic large-scale (11x2.5m) paintings in situ depicting the barbarism of the Gulf War, entitled “L’Oracle des temps.” This installation was complimented by the performance of a dancer. Kacimi was also committed to humanitarianism and social work; in 1997, along with his friend psychoanalyst Jalil Bennani and his second wife, psychiatrist Chafika Sekkat, he undertook a project that used art as a form of therapy to help psychologically disturbed teens.

Having started as a teenage amateur from Meknes, tortured by the colonial French police, Kacimi arrived at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in 1998 as a renowned artist and a founding member of the Moroccan Organization of Human Rights (OMDH). It is fair to say that the artist’s journey was a remarkable one; sadly, it ended in 2003, when Kacimi passed away in Rabat due to Hepatitis-C related complications. The artist’s legacy lives on, however, and he is considered one of Morocco’s most inspiring contemporary artists to this day.

Sources

Descendre, Nadine. Mohammed Kacimi catalogue raisonné. Vol. 1. 2 vols. Rabat, Morocco : Art'Dif éditions, 2017.

Descendre, Nadine. Mohammed Kacimi catalogue raisonné. Vol. 2. 2 vols. Rabat, Morocco : Art'Dif éditions, 2017.

ALIPLAGE1. "L'ARTISTE MOHAMED KACIMI." YouTube. April 25, 2008. Accessed April 11, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTssRvBZgH8

Badre Belhachemi. “Mohamed kacimi (Namadij 2M).” YouTube. November 23, 2012. Accessed April 11, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hj4vvvrtJk

Kacimi Mohammed, Parole Nomade, Al Manar. Accessed April 11, 2018. https://www.editmanar.com/peintres/Kacfr.htm.

Le360Live. "Le360.ma • "Résistance" : Une Exposition Hommage à Mohamed Kacimi. YouTube. October 20, 2016. Accessed April 11, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZrSRomYJ0g

Matin, Le. "L'africanité De L'œuvre Mohamed Kacimi Dévoilée à Casablanca." Le Matin. Accessed April 11, 2018. https://lematin.ma/journal/2014/arts-plastiques_l-africanite-de-l-oeuvre-mohamed-kacimi-devoilee-a-casablanca/209219.html.

"الجزيرة نت - طباعة الخبر". Accessed April 11, 2018. http://www.aljazeera.net/home/print/f6451603-4dff-4ca1-9c10-122741d17432/dbf99973-c421-4c7e-a0ee-74127a402002.

+-

CV

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2019

Kacimi 1993-2003, an African transition, MUCEM, Marseille, France

2016

Hommage à Mohammed Kacimi, Journées du livre africains, Montréal, Canada

2013

L’art comme geste extrême, Al-Maghrib Bank Museum of Art, Rabat, Morocco

2009

Kacimi, un hommage, Espace Expression CDG, Rabat, Morocco

2005

Mohammed Kacimi Gallery at Fes - Opening, Fes, Morocco

2003

Mohamed Kacimi, Al Riwaq Art Gallery, Bahrein

2002

Florence Touber Gallery, Paris, France
Atelier Porte 2 A, Bordeaux, France
French Institute, Dakar, Senegal

1998

Le Bateau-Lavoir Gallery, Grenoble, France

1996

Maison de la culture, Bourges, France

1995

Galerie Bab Rouah, Rabat, Morocco

1994

Atelier ouvert, Hôpital Ephémère, Paris, France

1993

Centre International des Etudiants et Stagiaires, Paris, France

1991

Bab-el Kebir -Oudayas, Chehrazad et La Guerre, Morocco

1990

Huit Gallery, Poissy, France
Nadar Gallery, Casablanca, Morocco
Arcanes Gallery, Ouray’s, Rabat, Morocco

1988

Arab World Institute, Paris, France

1987

Gallery Alif-Ba, Casablanca, Morocco

1985

Bonlieu Center, Annecy, France
Jean-Claude David Gallery, Grenoble, France

1984

F.O.L. Gallery, Montpellier, France

1982

Nadar Gallery, Casablanca, Morocco
Office of Tourism Gallery, Marrakech, Morocco

1981

Central Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland

1977

Nadar Gallery, Casablanca, Morocco

1975

Nadar Gallery, Casablanca, Morocco
Galerie d’Art Moderne, Casablanca, Morocco

1972

Galerie du Conservatoire municipal de Meknès, Morocco

1968

Galerie La Découverte, Rabat, Morocco

1964

First Solo Exhibition at : Conservatoire municipal de Meknès, 45 works shown, Morocco

Selected Group Exhibitions

2018

A Century in Flux, Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah Art Museum,
Sharjah, UAE
Miroir collectif, central Bank Museum, Rabat, Morocco
Truth is black, write over it with a mirage’s light, Darat Al Funun, Amman, Jordan

2016

The Short Century, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah Museum, Sharjah, UAE

2015

Une collection, quatre regards, Espace d’art de la Société Générale Maroc, Casablanca, Morocco
Rituals of Signs and Transitions (1975-1995), Darat Al Funun, Amman, Jordan

2014

40 ans de regard sur l’art au Maroc, Nadar Gallery, Casablanca, Morocco

2013

Exposition collective d’artistes marocains, L’Atelier, Rabat, Morocco
Tajreed, CAP Kuwait, Kuwait

2012

100 ans de peinture au Maroc, International Fair for Books and Press, Geneva, Switzerland

2011

A Brave New World, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA    

2010

Couleurs, Passions, Rencontres et Histoire, Nadar Gallery, Casablanca, Morocco   

2008

Traces et Paroles, National Library of Morocco

2007

Art Inspired by poetry, Darat Al Funun, Amman, Jordan

2006

Dakar Biennale, Senegal

2004

Art contemporain du Maroc, French Parliament, Brussels, Belgium

2003

Brunei Gallery, SOAS University, London, UK

2002

Galerie Le Bateau Lavoir, Grenoble, France

2001

Maroc contemporain : Peintures et Livres d’artiste, De Markten, Brussels, Belgium
Palais de l’Unesco, Beirut, Lebanon
Galerie Florence Touber, Paris, France

1998

Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, France

1997

Couvent des Cordeliers, Paris, France

1996

Biennale international of Dakar, Senegal

1995

La peinture marocaine dans les collections françaises, BMCE, Paris, France

1993

5th international Biennale of Cairo, Egypt

1992

Galerie Ipso, Saint-Gilles, Belgium  (along with Farid Belkahia and Fouad Bellamine)

1990

1st Biennale of Dakar, Senegal

1989

Etienne Dinet Gallery, Paris, France
Foire Internationale de Flandre, Gand, Belgium -Ethnic, Modern, Contemporary Art

1988

Provincial Museum, Liège, Belgium

1987

Arab Contemporary Art, London, UK
International Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq
19th International Biennale at Sao Paulo, Brasil (along with Farid Belkahia, Fouad Bellamine, Mohamed Melihi and Bdelkebir Rabi)

1985

Palais de la Porte Dorée, Paris, France

1983

Moroccan Painting, Kuwait
Walt Disney Hall, Los Angeles, California, USA
2nd Biennale of Tunis, Tunisia

1980

1st Biennale of Tunis, Tunisia
“Art Arabe Contemporain”, Museum of Modern Art, Tunis, Tunisia
Graphic Art Biennale of Baghdad, Iraq

1979

6th Arab Exhibition, Kuwait

1978

International Exhibition of fine arts for Palestine, Beirut, Lebanon

1974

First Biennale de Baghdad (Biennale Panarabe), Baghdad, Iraq 
First Exposition Maghrébine in Algiers, Algeria

1972

Galerie La Découverte, Rabat, Morocco Group Exhibition organized by FATH

1971

L’Atelier, Rabat, Morocco

Awards and Honors

1998

7th Biennale of Cairo, Egypt, First Prize

1995

5th Biennale of Cairo, Egypt, First Prize

1994

4th Biennale of Pastel, St. Quentin, France, first prize

1993

4th Biennale of Cairo, Egypt, Prize of Honor

Social & Public Participations

1998

Exhibition and contribution to publishing Liberté 98 book, during the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNESCO, Paris, France

1997

Installation at the Medersa Ben Youssef, Marrakech, Morocco

1996

Public Painting, Maison de la Culture de : Bourges, Amines et Nerves, France

1995

Hôpital Éphémère - installation, 1st 6 large scale paintings of Le Temps des conteurs, France

1994

La Route de L’esclave, Benin, Africa - huge baskets painted and fixed at the shore.
Hôpital des Enfants, Rabat, Morocco - large scale painting executed for children
Hôpital Éphémère Project - artist residence at the Hôpital Bretonneau, France

1993

Oriflammes De Limoges, France - urban installation of 50 painted banners.
Grotte Des Temps Futurs, Installation at the Centre culturel Français, Rabat, Morocco

1992

Mural painting, Musée d’Art Contemporain d’Anvers, Belgium
Performance with dancer Catherine Pouzet, Kash Theater, Antalya, Turkey

1988

7 Haiks, tinted in Marrakesh, some hanged at Bab El Kibir, Morocco

1987

Second Mural, Assila, Morocco

1985

Public Installation on the beach, 7 painted flags, Harhoura, Temara, Morocco 
Public painting with the participation of singer Diad and writer Abdellatif Laabi , Grenoble, France
Mural painting, Grenoble, France

1984

An abstract painting study for the Ministry of Engineering, Morocco

1977

First intervention with children ; La Parole aux enfants, Place Piétri, Rabat, Morocco
First mural, Assila, Morocco

Publications

2015

Tahar Ben Jelloun, Mohammed Kacimi, Lettre à Matisse

2008

Mohammed Kacimi and Jalil Bennani, Traces et paroles, Des adolescents, un peintre, un psychanalyste

2004

Abdellatif Laâbi and Mohammed Kacimi, Ruses de vivant

2003

Mohammed Kacimi, Festival d’Essaouira/Vécu comme un livre ouvert Collectif, Hommage à Kacimi

2001

Mohammed Kacimi, L’éspace mental et l’école

1999

Mohammed Kacimi, Parole nomade, l’expérience d’un peintre

1997

Mohammed Kacimi, Le Bus de la connaissance

1994

Mohammed Kacimi, Le Corps de la mémoire

1991

Mohammed Kacimi, Imaginaire et réalité

1987

Mohammed Kacimi, Autour des Intensités

1981

Mohammed Kacimi, Lettre ouverte d’un peintre marocain à un douanier suisse

1979

Mohammed Kacimi, La peinture marocaine/Situation

Collections

National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian, Washington D.C., USA
Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon
Khalid Shuman Foundation: Darat Al Funun,Amman, Jordan
Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE
Kinda Foundation Contemporary Art Collection, Saudi Arabia

+-

Videos

+-

Exhibitions

MOHAMMED KACIMI Artwork