Unknown protagonists silenced by official sources, the Berbers (or Imazighen, as they prefer to be known) are the group of peoples who since ancient times occupied almost all of North Africa, from the Siwa oasis (west of Egypt) to the Atlantic Ocean, including the Canary Islands, and from the Mediterranean to the south border of the Sahara.
Throughout history they have gone by many other names (Mauri, Libu, Numidians, Gaetuli, Garamantes…) reflecting their internal, geographical, and cultural plurality.
The Imazighen have witnessed numerous migrations, colonisations, and invasions. All have enriched their identity, while reducing their population through assimilationist policies.
However, the Berbers survive. It is calculated that there are currently over 35 million Berber, 20 million in Morocco, while the European and American diaspora account for several million
The Amazigh identity or identities are today reflected above all in their language, TAMAZIGHT, in its different variations (Tarifit. Tashelhit, Tamahaq…). It is also reflected in their awareness of sharing a common legacy of traditions, celebrations, and customs, and finally in their willingness to accept this legacy as their own.
From the late 11th century, major dynasties from North Africa such as the Almoravid (lamțūna) and then the Almohad (masmuda) tried to reunify the Islamic West, reinterpreting Is lam and homogenising and highlighting the Amazigh language ge and culture which became driving forces for Islamisation. However, the influence of the Imazighen did not end there.
At the height of the hegemony of the feudal kingdoms, from the 13th century, a new power came into play, the Marinids. The ties between this emirate with its seat in Fez and that of the Nasrid in Granada were solid, with mutual influences and extensive exchanges. This can be observed in the Alhambra and the major institutional constructions (madrasa, maristan, gates…) but also in everyday ceramic goods. It has even been argued that a Maghrebisation took place in Granada.
Before the Second World War, black intellectuals who studied in Paris saw how European colonial powers suppressed African culture. Central to their thinking was a feasible, collective African identity, Négritude. In using this name, they changed a term with negative connotations, nègre, into a word that can express the value of black culture and history. The Négritude movement formed the basis of the magazine Présence Africaine and the “First Congress of Black Writers and Artists”, held in 1956 in Paris. Leading roles were played by the intellectuals Aimé Césaire, Alioune Diop, and Léopold Senghor. They placed great value on precolonial African traditions and art, while also applying modernist strategies in their work, such as alienation, fragmentation, and experimentation.
For black artists in Paris, it was shocking to see important African objects in museums which could scarcely still be found in African countries, a cynical consequence of colonial history. Présence Africaine, which is active to this day, offered a platform to intellectuals who wanted to give shape to a black self-awareness in the modern world, Or as its founder Diop put it, “Présence Africaine is open to the good will of all men (white, yellow, or black) who can help to define African originality and hasten its insertion into the modern world”.
The great designer William Morris once said ‘have nothing in your home you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’ and we couldn’t agree more.
In the age of stripped back decluttering courtesy of Marie Kondo, El Fenn wants to raise the flag for maximalism and colour. It doesn’t means mess but a Morris-inspired collection of the things you love.
That’s why they have curated a selection of products that will allow you to take a small piece of El Fenn back to your own home.
So from crockery to linens, fragrances to books, we believe every product we sell is either beautiful or useful – and hopefully both.
El Fenn shop began life as a few șhelves on the back wall of the reception office.
But in the years since then it’s grown to become one of the biggest draws to El Fenn, known for its eclectic selection of both established and up-and-coming names on the Moroccan design scene.
There are LRNCE products from the potter beloved by the design crowd, stripped back urban luxury fashion courtesy of Marrakchi Life and traditional artisanal home furnishings given a modern twist by the team at Anajam Home.
I have taken the liberty of transcribe the flyer “ABOUT EL FENN” the managing partner Willem Smit recently gave to me. It is the best way to show this Marrakech highlight.
“We call El Fenn a home from home because that is what we wanted to create from the first day we opened our doors fourteen years ago.
Since then we’ve added rooms, knocked down walls, hosted art festivals and film screenings, huge parties and memorable weddings but that one core value of what we’re here to do has remained. Now, more than ever, we want to retain El Fenn’s intimacy and friendliness.
Because our lives are increasingly time poor as the world keeps getting busier. And while we’ve seen Marrakech grow and expand over the years since we opened – donkeys and carts replaced by scooters that buzz and smartphones that ping – the medina is also immutable: ancient, atmospheric and inspiring. We want you to make the most of that while you’re here.
That’s why there are no TVs but instead lots of spaces to relax in. Please do make the most of them to read, sleep or sip a mint tea and listen to the muezzin’s call to prayer as the sun sets.
Then, once your energy levels are reset, we urge you to venture out a little further and see what you find – or finds you – in the beautiful city of Marrakech.
There’s a saying in Morocco that you don’t choose a house, a house chooses you. And we feel incredibly lucky that El Fenn happened to choose us. It is a place that we hold deep in our hearts and it gives us great pleasure to be able to share it with you”.
see more at https://el-fenn.com/
Contemporanea was founded in 1996 as an organization which promotes art through activities and culture programs in Spain and worldwide. Mario Martin Pareja and Dumia Medina are the Directors.
He has produced more than 50 exhibitions such as “Apocalypse”, with Keith Haring and Williams Burroughs; “Seguir vivo”, with Michel Houellebecq and Masbedo; “Andy Warhol, Pietro Psaier & The Factory: Pop Icons”; “USA Today: An Approach to 21st Century American Art”; “Gráfika. A Collections of Prints by the Artists of Beautiful Losers”; “Ryan McGinley. Yearbook”; “Lydia Lunch. A Retrospective”; “Gráfika. 30 Artists from Young Spain”; “Duffy. Retrospective”; “Richard Kern. Naked and Famous”, “Steve Schapiro. Retrospectiva”, “C215. Sobre todo, los objetos”, “Suite 1742. John Lennon & Yoko Ono”, “Madonna. El nacimiento de un mito” “Nirvana. 20 Años”, “From Sex To Punk”, “Duffy. Bowie Series”, among others.
As editor it has also produced books (Lydia Lunch, Michel Houellebecq, William S. Burroughs) or limited edition prints and objects (Richard Kern, Tim Biskup, C215, Miss Van, Lydia Lunch, Jim Houser, René Peña, Victor Castillo, Valeriano López, Chema López, Jacobo Castellano, Boris Hoppek, etc.).
Contemporanea also collaborates with other Museums and Art Centers in musical, spoken word and performing activities. It has worked with entities such as Centre de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona (CCCB); La Casa Encendida (Madrid); Fundación para las Artes (Valladolid); DA2-Domus Artium (Salamanca); Espai D’Art (Castellon); Es Baluard (Majorca); José Saramago Foundation, Audi Foundation Beirut, etc.
Hassan Hajjaj straddles the divide not just between countries and cultures, but art and artisans. And it’s this unique mix of perspectives and disciplines that has made him arguably Morocco’s hottest current art export.
Hajjaj’s portrait photography, shown in galleries including London’s Somerset House and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is created and framed using the products and skills of Marrakech’s artisans.
And while his real love are the everyday ‘heroes’ of the city – from friends and neighbours to gnaoua musicians and the henna artists of Djemaa el Fna – he’s also developed a celebrity following that’s seen Madonna, Cardi B and Will Smith sit for him over the past couple of years.
Hajjaj was born and grew up in the northern city of Larache before leaving Morocco for England aged 14 and quitting school a year later with no qualifications. He entered the London party scene and became a promoter turned streetwear designer, an aspect of his early career that still comes through in the exuberant colours, bold patterns and touchable textures of his work.
In 1989, he began taking photographs and at first his work was purely private. But in 1995, he returned to Marrakech for the first time in years and it was the start of his unique creative partnership with the city.
“I got back to London thinking I´d probably never go there again but something about the place kept calling me back, ‘he says. “The next thing I knew I was coming two or three times a year, but always I felt it was only because the city was inviting me. I didn’t want to be someone that came just to take, I wanted to be a part of the city, its life and its people – I wanted in some way to protect them.”
A recent addition to Marrakech’s buzzing art scene is housed in one of the great treasures of the city’s Art Deco heritage. A 1932 villa in Gueliz now houses the Comptoir des Mines gallery that showcases some of Morocco’s best artists. Created by respected gallerist Hicham Daoudi, who has a special focus on helping up-and-coming artists develop, the space hosts exhibitions that focus on weighty themes. Past works have looked at ‘Crossings’- an exploration of migration – and ‘African Poetries’ – a meditation on artistic melancholy.
This exhibition is dedicated to illuminating the role of women in Russian art.
A love of creative work and mastery of craft have shone through in various articles made by both rural and urban women. These women were quite skilled at needlework, sculpting and decorating clay and wooden toys, knitting scarves and shawls, and decorating towels and tablecloths with enchanting patterns. The comfort and beauty of a home depended completely on the taste and expertise of the mistress of the house. But in the 18th and especially the 19th centuries, it was becoming much more common for a woman to want to occupy herself with something other than her household.
It was also at this time that practicing the arts became fashionable in Russia. Royal and aristocratic households began inviting professional artists to teach drawing, watercolour and oil painting. The growing desire of women to attain equal rights manifested in them demanding the opportunity to receive an arts education in specialized schools. In 1842, the St Petersburg Drawing School opened a Women’s Department. By the end of the 1840s, talented young women were permitted to study at the Academy of Arts, although initially only as listeners (not taking exams or receiving diplomas).
From the 1850s to the 188Os, many art schools – not only those in the major cities of St Petersburg and Moscow, but also institutions in smaller towns – began accepting female students. With these opportunities now widely available, we see at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century a blossoming of the work of women artists. They begin showing their work at exhibitions and joining various societies and associations alongside male artists.
The thematic and stylistic richness of Russian art extended to art done by women as well. Some worked in the classical tradition (Zinaida Serebryakova, Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva, Anna Golubkina), while others, having worked in Cubism, Futurism, and Primitivism (Natalia Goncharova), master and begin developing various forms of non-objectivity (Olga Rozanova, Lyubov Popova, Alexandra Exter).
Having accepted the social revolution of 1917 as a sign of renewal in all spheres of life, female artists became some of the most active participants in transforming the environment. Using the groundbreaking innovations of the first two decades of the 20th century, women artists designed clothing, ceramics, theatre sets, and public buildings. In the hopes of creating a new consciousness among the proletariat and peasants, victorious in their revolution, women artists offered society anti-bourgeois answers in their work. Some used unexpected materials (such as Sofya Dymshits-Tolstaya’s glass and sand), while others, like sisters Maria and Ksenia Ender, used their paintings to manifest the results of their investigations into how people perceive color, light, and sound.
During the period from the early 1930s to the mid-196Os, when all investigations and experiments in the Soviet Union ceased due to the totalitarian ideology, female artists felt the pressure just as much as their male counterparts. Many of them were imprisoned. The label of “formalist” precluded any innovative artists from engaging with the public. These limitations did not shut down the creative process, however. Many of the artists that were forced into the underground at that time were women (Alisa Poret, Tatyana Glebova, Anna Leporskaya, Pelageya Shuriga). They continued developing ideas conceived by the avant-garde of the early 20th century- Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin, Mikhail Matiushin – while at the same time creating their own styles and unique thematic preferences.
Beginning in the era of the so-called “thaw” – a period that saw the removal of many ideological prohibitions – and lasting up until the present day, exhibition halls have been filled with paintings, sculptures, and installations from women artists working in all types of genres and styles.
The next is an Evgenya Petrova brochure for the Malaga Russian Museum Exhibition. It is a good choice to share with our followers a georgeous XX century Russian women art selection.
Antonina Gmurzynska was perhaps the first Western collector to show a deep and serious interest in the Russian art of the first decades of the 20th century, and her collection was very well known to art connoisseurs. Items from it have often been exhibited in various countries, and published in books, catalogues and albums.
For several decades now Krystyna Gmurzynska, daughter of Antonina, has been continuing and developing what her mother had started, and during this time the collection has, of course, changed. Some things are now in other hands, and some names and works that were unknown in the 1950s-1970s, when Antonina was collecting Russian art, became available and were acquired by Krystyna.
The theme of Female Artists in Russia does not form a special section as such in this collection. However, it turns out that quite a considerable number of exceptional artists in Russia were, in fact, women. Thus, Krystyna Gmurzynska’s collection provides a welcome supplement to the female theme displayed in this year’s exhibitions.
It includes works by artists who are rarely found elsewhere, such as Elena Guro (1877-1913), Xenia (1895(94?)-1955) and Maria Ender (1897-1942) and Anastasia Akhtyrko (1902-1968). Some female artists, such as Antonina Sofronova (1892-1966), are represented by a whole series of works that are known just by individual drawings in other collections. Many of the works in the Gmurzynska collection reveal unknown pages in the artistic careers of famous masters. Kazimir Malevich, for example, worked during the last few years of his life on the decoration of architectural structures. One of his faithful students and helpers was Anna Leporskaya, and together they produced a project for decorating the Red Theatre in Leningrad (1931-1932). Malevich’s concept consisted of an entirely new non-objective approach to decorating public spaces. In a letter from Malevich to Leporskaya his specific colouristic treatment is indicated with complete clarity. In this same letter we can see Malevich’s inflexible demand: if his idea was altered in any way he would abandon the project. The sketches for the decoration of the Red Theatre that are in the Gmurzynska collection, are extremely important illustrations of what the interiors could have looked like if the theatre had not burnt down in 1932.
This relatively small exhibition, showing a small part of the Gmurzynska collection that is devoted to female artists in Russia, displays a fitting complement to the Women Artists exhibition.
Mask made by the Fang, given in 1905 to Maurice Vlaminck whom sold it to Andre Derain. It w aseen also by Picasso and Matisse. This was not the first African sculpture to attract Valminck, but it appears to be the only one from this time wich is still certainly identificable.