By Saad Guerraoui
By Saad Guerraoui
LONDON, April 24, 2012 (Middle East Online)
UK-based Moroccan Fine Art launched its online gallery today in a bid to promote Morocco’s contemporary art in Britain and worldwide, Director Nadia Echiguer told Middle East Online.
Moroccan Fine Art, the UK’s first dedicated gallery to Moroccan artists, was Echiguer’s inspiration from her grandfather who once told her that “a home without art is a home without soul.”
The 27-year-old Moroccan, who holds a Master’s degree in Marketing, grew up in a family surrounded by art. Her father is an amateur photographer and her aunt a painter.
“Moroccan Fine Art is an online gallery specialised in contemporary Moroccan art with the aim of helping unknown and emerging talented Moroccan artists shoot to fame,” said Echiguer, whose flat is adorned with stunning Moroccan paintings.
Only a few Moroccan artists had been able to exhibit their artworks in the UK market in the past due to various factors, including the language and the focus on other European countries such as France and Spain.
Echiguer has already got strong ties with some Moroccan artists. Her husband Adnan Bennani and she worked closely with a London-based international art consultancy company to decorate the Four Seasons Hotel in Marrakech. She commissioned 12 Moroccan artists to make 50 artworks for Hotel in Marrakech.
“The online gallery features paintings of Moroccan artists for viewing but not for sale,” she said.
“An Urban Twist from Morocco”
Echiguer will hold the first exhibition “An Urban Twist from Morocco” of Moroccan contemporary art in Coningsby Gallery in London May 7-12.
Paintings and drawings in figurative, abstract and calligraphy genres will be on display amid the absence of their artists.
“24 Paintings and drawings of five Moroccan artists will be exhibited in the Gallery and will be on sale,” said Echiguer, adding that all artworks had been shipped from Morocco to the UK.
Shipping artworks was costly, logistically difficult and had to be done according to the European standards because the artists are spread across Morocco.
“It was a difficult operation to carry out as we had to collect the artworks from four different cities. Luckily the authorisation from Morocco’s Ministry of Culture to ship the artworks took only three days. I had to do everything legally to be on the safe side,” she noted.
She had been working on the project for five months starting from Morocco all the way to the UK.
Moroccan Fine Art will be holding Moroccan arts exhibitions three to four times a year. Echiguer is eyeing museums, art consultants, interior designers and private collectors.
Contemporary art in Morocco
Contemporary art is taking off in Morocco, particularly since the ascendance of King Mohammed VI to the throne in 1999, despite the existence of only two art schools in the country and the quasi-absence of museums.
Most of the country’s art galleries such as Galerie Villa Delaporte and Atelier 21 are in Casablanca. The art market in the North African Kingdom is still in its infancy stage and most galleries alternate between modern and contemporary art to keep afloat. Many venues are heavily reliant on funds from international foundations.
“Before, only private and public institutions were buying artworks. The trend has changed in the last ten years as private Moroccan collectors are showing a keen interest in art,” Echiguer said thanks to a booming economy which saw the rise of many wealthy businessmen.
Large projects such as a contemporary art museum for Rabat have been launched in Morocco in order to keep up with this growing market.
The “An Urban Twist from Morocco” exhibition will be an opportunity for the British viewers to browse through Morocco’s diverse and fluid fine art, which will redefine their perceptions about Morocco’s art and its people.