Ahmed Cherkaoui in Warsaw: Polish-Moroccan Artistic Relations (1955-1980)
Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland10 Mar 2020 - 02 Aug 2020
Ahmed Cherkaoui is widely recognized as a pioneer and one of the most prominent representatives of Moroccan contemporary art. At the beginning of 1960s he spent a year in Warsaw, studying at the Fine Arts Academy, and his stay in Poland turned out to be a breakthrough in his painting career.
Focused on the exploration of matter painting, the Warsaw period heralded the artist’s later experiments in abstract art, replete with references to traditional Berber culture and religious motifs of Islam, as well as to Polish and French avant-garde.
Ahmed Cherkaoui’s works from this period return to Warsaw after almost sixty years, for the exhibition at the Zachęta. They are a starting point for tracing a multitude of themes related to the works of Moroccan artists in Poland, Polish artists in Morocco, and their mutual contacts. Since the mid-1950s until the beginning of the 1980s, a dozen or so Moroccan students were studying in fine arts academies in Warsaw and Cracow and in the Łódź Film School.
The Polish-Moroccan art relations presented at the exhibition appear to be an important testimony to transcontinental cultural exchange during the Cold War. They show Warsaw, Łódź and Asilah as an international melting pot and important crossroads of Slavic, Arabic and Berber cultures. In all these artistic projects – outcomes of meetings between Moroccan and Polish artists – one can observe the need to look for new expression in various fields of art: painting, film, conceptual art, and printmaking. A deeper analysis of these relations will give us a better insight into the transformations on the global map of art. And, surprising as it may look from today’s perspective, the idea of a Polish-Moroccan cultural get-together has proved to play an important role here.
Participating artists: Roman Artymowski, Mohamed Ben Said, Ahmed Cherkaoui, Helena Cygańska-Walicka, Mustapha Derkaoui, Abdelkrim Derkaoui, Azzedine Douieb, Anna Draus Hafid, Abdellah Drissi, Mustapha Hafid, Irena Jarosińska, Idriss Karim, Najib Kheldouni, Grzegorz Kowalski, Abdelkader Lagtaa, Alfred Lenica, Zbigniew Makowski, Mohamed Melehi, Andrzej Partum, Ewa Partum, Barbara Pniewska, Erna Rosenstein, Aziz Sayed, Henryk Stażewski
Curators: Sara Lagnaoui, Przemysław Strożek
Zachęta – National Gallery of Art