Modernising Tradition – Casablanca Art School

How the contemporary fusion of African and Amazigh influences featured at the Casablanca Art School

Photography by Shanavas Jamaluddin

In a celebration of artistic innovation and cultural heritage, the landmark exhibition ‘Casablanca Art School: Platforms and Patterns for a Postcolonial Avant-Garde 1962–1987’ has opened its doors in Sharjah at Al Hamriyah Studios and Old Al Diwan Al Amiri, following its successful showing at Tate St Ives, and can be viewed until16 June 2024. This ground-breaking exhibition showcases the transformative work of the Casablanca Art School (CAS), an institution that played a pivotal role in reshaping Moroccan art by integrating abstract art with African and Amazigh traditions.

Casablanca Art School | identity Dubai

In the wake of Moroccan independence in 1956, CAS emerged as a beacon of artistic revolution. Staff and students at the school embarked on a mission to blend contemporary abstract art with the rich cultural tapestry of the region, drawing inspiration from traditional African and Amazigh crafts such as rugs, jewellery, calligraphy and painted ceilings.

Casablanca Art School | identity Dubai

Featuring artworks by 21 CAS artist-activists spanning generations, the exhibition offers a comprehensive view of the school’s enduring impact. Alongside rare print archives, vintage journals, photography and film, the artworks include vibrant abstract paintings, urban murals, crafts, typography, graphics and interior design. The artists of CAS – including influential figures like Farid Belkahia, Mohammed Chabâa, Bert Flint, Toni Maraini and Mohamed Melehi – embraced their multicultural heritage to bring art into everyday life. Through paintings, posters, magazines, outdoor murals and street festivals, they initiated a Moroccan ‘new wave,’ sparking a social and urban movement that resonated across Latin America, West Asia and Africa.

The exhibition is thoughtfully curated into thematic platforms and patterns that explore different facets of CAS’s legacy, including the fusing Afro-Amazigh heritage and design for everyday through the integration of art, craft and architecture; and its role in transforming neglected spaces and districts.

The Casablanca Art School can be viewed on registration.

Read more art features here.

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