Unlike the traditions of opening exhibitions, in art galleries, the plastic artist Saeed Hajji has chosen to open his exhibition in the Al-Fahd Gallery, starting from January 19, with an open meeting with the visitors of the exhibition, including friends, media professionals, artists, academics and interested individuals. Thus he breaks a tradition that visitors to art galleries are used to: a catalogue, a tea party, the viewing of paintings and conversations here and there… Then finally the meeting ends.
The meeting was attended by storyteller and film critic Mubarak Hosni, plastic artist and aesthetic critic Kamal Mustafa and writer and media personality Mohamed Moatasem.
In the critic Hosni’s article, he initially appreciated the idea of adding a cultural and artistic dimension to the exhibition, so that it would not remain a mere opening and that’s it. Being very close to artistic and creative success, he confirms that the works of the artist Haji have been able to establish a foothold in the national art scene and that they have also penetrated the spaces of the East, Europe and Brazil in Latin America.
Critic Hosni says the artist Haji was a producer during the Corona period (20 paintings between 2020-2022) and all these works and before that are organized within an individual personal experience, which he transformed into a psychological experience, which opened up a wide horizon for him: the experience of art and memory or the right to memory. The prison experience is notably present in his works, through various elements:
– The Chair: with its waiting and harsh symbolism;
Walls: as a violent limit to freedom;
– Spiders: with their overwhelming signal;
Despite what these elements suggest of a tendency towards isolation, we feel, says the critic Hosni, a longing for light, in its iridescent colouring. Despite the severity of the subject matter of Haji’s paintings, they do not deviate from the beautiful.
Wishing to stimulate discussion and interaction among the audience, critic Hosni asked important questions about the current plastic scene:
-Who do we create for?
-Did the departure of pioneers, such as El Melehi, Belkahia, El Meloudi, Amziane… have an impact on the artistic movement, with their founding symbolism, in the history of Moroccan art?
To what extent are successive generations able to perpetuate this movement and localize it?
How to convince the other of art and non-art?
What is the relationship between the cinema owners, society and the critic?
In the intervention of the aesthetic critic, Kamal Mostafa, he intended to classify the experience of the artist Saeed within the trend of historical realism. He also considered that his works are framed by Moroccan history since the seventies (the prison experience in Morocco, the bread revolt …). His painting, in and of itself, documents authoritarian violence, be it religious or political in origin. His works summarize the Moroccan social imaginary and deal with issues of the Palestinian and Lebanese conflict.
He analyzed the elements of the artist Haji’s painting:
– The chair: with its internal content, with its many colors, yellow… and the different shapes: curvature;
– The dimensions of the panels are close (the area in which a specific authority moves);
– The person is mobile (he himself is happy) in search of salvation.
As for the newspaper of the writer and journalist Muhammad Moatasem, he wanted it to be open to leave room for intervention. At first, he felt that the artist Haji’s project was a modernist in art, respecting his art and himself, and valuing his exhibits singularly in a bet on the privacy of the work. . In his initiative, he strives to open a discussion with the journalist, the critic and the simple ordinary public, and thus gives a new meaning to the concept of the exhibition (Nawal Sharif). Journalist Moatasem warned that there is no way to highlight the painting, present it and promote it except with a concerted effort, by media professionals, gallery owners, art critics and the ordinary recipient… Furthermore, there is no way to spread art in our life, except by educating in art and spreading it, starting from the first educational threads and arriving at the University.
In his interview with artist Haji, in his studio, writer Moatasem, within his project, In the Niche of Education, revealed this artist’s love for Guyanese song while working in his studio. Stressing that he presented a project on the Guyana experience to the Ministry of Culture, but did not receive support from it. Journalist Moatasem mentioned the fragility of the artist’s situation, his suffering during the quarantine period and the loss of his rights as stipulated by the Moroccan Copyright Office n. 66/10 on copyright and related rights.
The public interacted with these presented documents, and subsequent comments by the artist Saeed Hajji, a series of observations, including: the weakness of the artistic and visual culture, the disappearance of some exhibition halls (Al-Wasiti, Fenis Kadir, Al- Manar …), the inaction of the art media, and the obscurity of art criticism, which is nothing more than individual initiatives, as aesthetic critics can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and some of them have lost their credibility for their desire for materialism, paying attention to the formation of plastic education structures and the selection of specialists to practice this subject in the Moroccan school.
The understandable observer of the Haji result stands on the following transformations:
Proximity to the public (meeting fans of Raja Casablanca);
– A new conception of the functions and roles of the gallery and the exhibition;
openness to the cinema or cinematic openness to his writing; (The conversion of his novel Memory of Fing, into a film directed by Abdul Karim Al-Darkawi);
– An artistic and cultural project on the Nass El Ghiwane group (since 2018), supported by Brazil;
– The color of the chair changed from gray to cheerful colors;
The female poetic experience that accompanies Haji’s work;
Carrying out his project until the chair became a signed subject and subject that replaced the usual signature;
– Persistence in the conquest of artistic value, not commercial as dirty hands sell it;
– Promote initiatives to combine composition and poetry.
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