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A second edition that confirms the potential of the Moroccan art market
Murat Germen, Muta-morphosis n-¦3, 2010, 150x85cm, Le Caire, courtesy CAM Gallery.
MARRAKECH.- Nearly 4,500 visitors have rushed to the Es Saadi Palace on Friday, September 30 for the preview of the Marrakech Art Fair. Among the personalities who were present that evening and during the fair: Mr. Bensalem Himmich, Minister of Culture in Morocco, Mr. Jack Lang, former Minister of Culture in France, as well as Mr. Bruno Joubert, Ambassador of France in Morocco. There were also numerous representatives of international cultural institutions including Richard Lagrange, Anne-Marie Charbonneaux and Pascale Cassagnau from the CNAP, as well as Ms. Catherine Grenier, co-director of the Centre Pompidou, Ms. Rosa Sandretto, a member of the PS1 MOMA board, Mr Jérôme Sans, director of Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, Mr Daniel Bosser, President of the Association of Friends of the Palais de Tokyo, Mr Jean-Conrad Lemaître, President of the Association of Friends of the "Jeu de Paume", Ms Catherine David, a curator, Ms. Jennifer Flay, director of the FIAC, Mr. Carlos Urroz , director of the ARCO, Mr. Philippe Piguet, artistic director at Drawing Now and Mr Paul Ardenne, artistic director of the “Printemps de Toulouse 2012”, have also crossed the corridors of Marrakech Art Fair. Several directors of auction houses were also there, such as Mr Francis Briest from Artcurial, Ms Pascale Pavageau from Sotheby's, and Mr. Etienne Hellman from Christie's.

Overall, 14,000 visitors have crossed the doorway of the Es Saadi Palace, welcomed by the sculpture by Jaume Plensa ("The Soul of Marrakech") which was installed by Lelong gallery in the pool of the palace especially for the fair. Among these art lovers: many Moroccans, as well as foreigners residing in Morocco, but also collectors coming from France, Spain, Italy, Germany, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, Turkey ...

Within spaces designed by Philip Délis, every visitor of MAF # 2 was able to measure the impact and reach of this annual event which remains true to its mission of celebrating "art in sharing."

Offering a broad vision of contemporary art and of its current challenges, MAF # 2 has developed again a high quality cultural circuit, with a program of round tables and an exhibition confirming the reign of the image and digital culture in the service of changing societies. Hicham Daoudi has entrusted its design to Brahim Alaoui, bringing together the works by fifteen major Arab artists on the theme: “Images Affranchies” (Liberated images).

The program of videos made by international artists and the projection of feature films by Nabil Ayouch was very appreciated by visitors, bringing imagination to power, beyond the artistic dictates and taboos.

48 galleries from 11 countries, a platform for effervescent art scenes
Overall, 48 galleries from 11 countries have participated in Marrakech Art Fair 2, distributed between the indoor and outdoor spaces of the Es Saadi Palace. Among the countries represented: Egypt, France, Italy, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America.

"Marrakech Art Fair is the first fair in Africa to make it possible for very similar cultures with no opportunity to exhibit together, to connect", Hicham Daoudi, the founder of Marrakech Art Fair, is happy to explain.

The presence of five Tunisian galleries that showed the various facets of creation by addressing society issues translated the dynamism of the Tunisian art scene. Thus, galleries Ammar Farhat, El Marsa and Kanvas Art Gallery as well as Le Violon Bleu and VB Contemporain gallery presented established artists, alongside other artists to be discovered.

Supporting major figures of Tunisian and North African creation worldwide, El Marsa gallery exhibited photographs by young artist Thameur Mejri which were purchased between 5 and 10 000 Euros by a prestigious Moroccan collection, while collectors were also attracted by the work of Khaled Ben Slimane alongside photographs by Lamia Naji.

Very involved in the renewal of artistic practices in Tunisia, Ammar Farhat Gallery revealed the talent and humor of Aicha Filali, as well as peregrinations between moving and still images by Nicene Kossentini. They also exhibited four works by Meriem Bouderbala, 3 of which were sold at 6000 Euros, while the same artist was also enthusiastically received in the stand of the recent VB Contemporain gallery. The latter has also chosen to present the work by an Afghan artist: Gazelle Samizay. A New York collector bought several of her pictures, while a Turkish collector bought one of her videos. Kanvas gallery drew the attention with the works by young artist Mohamed Ben Slama, alongside those by Mohamed Ben Soltane. With their second participation in Marrakech Art Fair, Le Violon Bleu gallery has successfully exhibited the Moroccan artist Farid Belkahia.

The presence of Turkey has been very noticed, with the participation of seven galleries from Istanbul - CAM Gallery, CDA Projects, The Empire Project, Galerist, Merkur and PG Art Gallery, who were pleased with the interest generated by the Turkish contemporary scene.

Collectors have enjoyed the paintings by Mehmed Güleryüz, represented by The Empire Project, as well as the works by the Dutch artist Jasper de Beijer who sold several photos of his characters and his interactive game has been sold at 7500 Euros to a Moroccan collector.

The ceramics by Burçak Bingöl proposed by CDA Projects were purchased by two collectors, the carpets by :mentalKLINIK that adorned the stand of Galerist have largely seduced, and the newspaper installations by Irfan Onurmen had pride of place at PI Artworks. These were purchased by two Moroccan and French collectors. Merkur gallery sold two paintings by Ercan Akin, CAM Gallery sold several works by Murat Germen and Kezban Arca Batibeki, and more than 6 photos by Kerem Ozan Bayraktar found a buyer in the stand of PG art gallery whose works were primarily sold to Moroccan customers.

The Moroccan scene was represented in all its diversity, with the participation of 13 galleries : the Galerie 38, the Galerie 127, l’Arthotèque gallery, l'Atelier 21, David Bloch Gallery, FJ Gallery, Integral Gallery Art & Design, Loft Art Gallery, Matisse Art Gallery, Shart gallery, Sous Sol Art Gallery, GVCC and Voice Gallery, inaugurated in Marrakech during the fair week. Collectors have met for the second time at Marrakech Art Fair the Matisse gallery with many of their works sold, including several photos of Amina Benbouchta and a large drawing by Mohamed Lekleti. A newcomer to the fair, Fatma Jellal from FJ gallery sold an installation by Mustapha Akrim, representing the article 13 of the Moroccan Constitution, a very significant installation by Younès Rahmoun and the sound installation, "Call for Prayer - Morse" by their young artist Younes Baba Ali is being discussed. The Galerie 38 found buyers for works by Fatiha Zemmouri and photos by Fouad Maazouz. While the stand of the Shart gallery opened on the painting by Najia Mehadji, Sous-Sol Art Gallery sold a painting by Younes Khourassani. L'Atelier 21 represented the artist Mohamed El Baz with a very original piece "Save Mohamed" being negotiated, and sold drawings by Chourouk Hriech, works by Zakaria Ramhani and Safa Erruas, and the "Naked Feast" by El Baz, exhibited in the room where round tables were held, was also very appreciated by collectors.

Some galleries settled in Morocco have chosen to pay tribute to the country's opening to the world, by presenting a selection of works by Western artists. This is true for l'Artothèque that found buyers for several pieces by Russian artist Roland Shalamberidze and Spanish Josep Bofill, but also for David Bloch who sold a painting by Mist, a French representative of graffiti art, and Nathalie Locatelli from galerie 127 with photographers such as Sarah Moon, Marco Barbon, Flora, Denis Dailleux, among others…

Hicham Daoudi noted that "Marrakech Art Fair offers an additional and complementary exchange platform in this part of the world located halfway between East and West "; this was showed by some galleries that have created bridges with Morocco, such as Edwynn Houk Gallery, coming from New York with a successful exhibition of photos by Lalla Essaydi. While the Parisian Marie Vitoux Gallery sold works by Mahi Binebine, the Jean Fournier gallery negotiated the sale of three paintings by Saad Hassani. Marcel Strouk proposed the painting by Mehdi Qotbi whose retrospective will take place in his Rive Gauche Gallery this autumn, and the JGM gallery attracted in turn collectors with the drawings by Chourouk Hriech, the photos by Mohamed El Baz and the sculptures by Jean- François Fourtou, a French artist living in Morocco. Earlier this year, the gallery owner Jean Brolly had invited David Scher, an American artist, to spend a few weeks in Marrakech while making a series of works on paper which the visitors discovered on the occasion of the fair. The artistic dialogue from one country to another had also pride of place in the stand of Dominique Fiat gallery, which presented Moroccan artists Safâa Erruas and Abderrahim Yamou, the French and Danish Eva Nielsen and the Indian artist Anita Dube, whose installation was sold.

Focusing on contemporary African artists, André Magnin proposed a fine collection of recent works (paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings) recalling the fair anchoring on the African continent, through works by artists who have in common the fact of living and working in Africa: Pierre Bodo, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Calixte Dakpogan, Emmanuel Ekefrey, John Goba, Romuald Hazoumè, Kiripi Katembo, Seydou Keïta, George Lilanga, Gonçalo Mabunda, Moke, J.D.’Okhai Ojeikere, Chéri Samba, Kura Shomali, Monsengo Shula, Malick Sidibé, Billie Zangewa.

More generally, the artists from the Arab world in its diversity have found at Marrakech Art Fair a great platform for expression, beyond the usual ideological barriers allowing them to enhance their visibility.

Art Space gallery in Dubai sold, among other works, "The Dog" for 28,000 euros, a sculpture edited 5 copies by Egyptian sculptor Adam Henein.

Based in San Gimignano, Italy and in Beijing, China, the Galleria Continua drew the attention of collectors with the works of the Egyptian Moataz Nasr and the Algerian Kader Attia. The works by these artists have found buyers on the first night. Other works by Pascale Marthine Tayou and Mona Hatoum were purchased by international collectors. A world map on a traditional carpet was sold shortly before the arrival of the gallery to a Moroccan amateur. The installation by Daniel Buren is on track to be purchased by a prestigious Moroccan collector living in Paris.

Coming from Saudi Arabia, Athr Gallery sold to major Moroccan collectors works by artists from their country Noha Al Sharif and Jowhara Al Saud. Holding a solo show at Aline Vidal gallery, the Iranian artist Elika Hedayat has met with such critical success that all her works presented in the stand are about to be sold.

With an exhibition scheduled in Palm Beach, Ward Culture & Art Center gallery from Cairo have generated special interest especially with the work by Armen Agop, Adel El Swi and Essam Marouf.

Daniela Da Prato gallery was warmly received, with a presentation based on a mapping of artists from all countries of the Middle East and a new work, breaking with his usual style, by the Egyptian Khaled Hafez and a tribute to freedom by Lebanese artist Zena El Khalil were bought by Moroccan collectors. In the stand of IVDE gallery (Dubai), the solo-show of the French and Algerian artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah with her work on ceramics have convinced many collectors.

The Western contemporary art was also appreciated in the heart of this confrontation, thus, Metro Pictures New York gallery sold works by Olaf Breuning and Robert Longo to a great Moroccan collector. All eyes converged on a painting by Vasarely at Di Meo gallery, and on the carpets by Aladdin Garunov presented by the Russian Aidan Gallery. The Parisian Albert Benamou sold several photos by Xavier Zimbardo, the Dix9 gallery sold a photo by Tia Calli Borlase and two works by Mehdi George Lahlou. The Besseiche Lartigue gallery has completed the sale of two photos by Serge Mendjisky while Piramidon Centre of art Contemporani (Barcelona) sold a painting by Pere de Ribot.

Significant sale results
A significant development in Morocco, 60% of purchases were devoted to photography in an average between 3,000 and 20,000 Euros. Indeed, this 2nd edition of Marrakech Art Fair has highlighted the collectors’ taste for photography and video. The cultural program and the fair itself have enabled to establish these two medium into the Moroccan artistic landscape, alongside the more traditional painting. Sculptures have also been very appreciated by collectors, as well drawing, having pride of place through the Es saadi prize for contemporary art.

Among the major sales: with a huge charcoal drawing by Robert Longo sold right before the fair, Metro Pictures has also sold a photo by Olaf Breuning at about 15 000 Euros; the gallery Lelong has negotiated the sale of a sculpture by Jaume Plensa for 150 000 Euros, Le Violon Bleu gallery sold pieces by Farid Belkahia up to 40 000 Euros; FJ gallery sold a work by Younes Rahmoun at 38,000 Euros; El Marsa Gallery sold a bronze sculpture by Khaled Ben Slimane at 16 000 euros; the sculptures by Noha Al Sharif were sold at 15 800 Euros each by Arthr Gallery; pictures by Xavier Zimbardo were sold at the stand of the Benamou gallery at 8500 Euros each, and two pictures by Lalla Essaydi where sold at 7500 Euros each in the stand of Edwynn Houk Gallery which is about to sell a larger one at 18 000 Euros; Merkur gallery from Istanbul sold two paintings by Ercan Akin at 6000 Euros each, Matisse gallery sold photos by Amina Benbouchta at 5000 Euros each, JGM Gallery sold three drawings by Chourouk Hriech, between 1000 and 3000 Euros, the gallery 127 sold more than twenty photos, at about 1500 Euros each.

The First Es Saadi prize awarded to Chourouk Hriech
This 2011 edition is marked by the launch of the Es Saadi Prize for contemporary art, created by Elisabeth Bauchet-Bouhlal and Jamil Bouhlal, who preside over the destiny of the Es Saadi Gardens & Resort where the fair has been held since its inception. This first prize was delivered to Chourouk Hriech, a 34 year old artist who lives and works in Marseille and whose drawings are presented both by l’Atelier 21 (Casablanca) and JGM Gallery (Paris). Through this prize, the artist will make an original project thanks to the 15,000 Euros production grant.

Marrakech Art Fair | Mr. Bensalem Himmich | Mr. Jack Lang | Mr. Bruno Joubert |


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