Sisters Myriem and Yasmine Berrada founded Loft Art Gallery in 2008 with the aim of making a positive contribution to the burgeoning modern and contemporary art scene in Morocco. The gallery’s curatorial approach emerged from extensive research conducted on the founding principles of the modern Moroccan art period, thus providing more visibility to the country’s pioneers.
Returning to Marrakech for the third consecutive year, the gallery will present artists Amina Agueznay, Hicham Benohoud, Mohamed Lekleti and Joana Choumali, recently awarded the 2019 Prix Pictet, together with the show Moroccan Landscapes (running till 30 April) as part of the extended 1-54 Public Programme.
Why do you like returning to 1-54 and in what does it differ from the other international fairs you have participated in?
1-54 Marrakech is held in one of the most prestigious hotels, La Mamounia, where you can perceive a particular atmosphere and magic. This fair has a boutique element to it with a solid and comprehensive roaster of participating galleries. Its very wide audience and varied series of partner events give it a bubbly and exciting dynamic.
On the top of that, Marrakech has become a platform of African contemporary art, and a very popular international destination offering a wonderful energy and climate; we are proud of this city and its capacity of encapsulating all that Morocco can offer to the world.
As a local gallery can you explain your perceptions on 1-54 Marrakech influence and impact on the local art infrastructure?
1-54 Marrakech offers precisely this showcase through art, and through prestigious international galleries. The Moroccan market is increasingly organised with major players, renowned galleries that are positioned on the international market, exhibition curators and major exhibitions. 1-54 Marrakech strengthens this position, this dynamic and this structuring; we are very pleased with it, and we encourage the initiative of Touria El Glaoui, which gives real impetus and visibility to the Moroccan and African artistic scene.
Why did you choose Casablanca has the base of your gallery and what do you think of the growing Moroccan contemporary art scene?
Our family is from Casablanca and when opening the gallery 10 years ago, it was normal for us to think just of doing it in our city. Moreover, at that time, most of the art galleries were based in Casablanca that had a quite energetic artistic activity. Today other poles have developed over the years such as Marrakech with 1-54 or Rabat which launched its Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2019 within the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, which opened its doors back to 2014.
The four artists you will be presenting in Marrakech employ completely different media, from embroidery to drawing and photography, but at the same time are able through their work to evoke dreamy visions, myths constantly permeated by a fine “delicacy” and eloquent poetry. Can you tell us more about your curatorial choice?
The themes were offered to us by bînomes. The narrative side and introspection, performance or the importance of manual work and craftsmanship. We have chosen to bring our artists together in pairs: thus we highlight the narrative element of the works by Ivorian artist Joana Choumali and the Moroccan artist Mohamed Lekleti. Joana’s work also echoes the one of Amina Agueznay, particularly on the use they both make of textiles. At the other end, the works of Amina Agueznay and Hicham Benohoud will be presented side by side in the Moroccan Landscapes exhibition to be held in El Fenn. The two artists will give us to see through their works their intimate visions of Morocco, sharing a great sensitivity and a lot of poetry in their respective artistic practices. Experimenting diversified supports and techniques, works of charcoal on paper by Mohamed Lekleti will alternate with the photography by Joana Choumali and Hicham Benohoud and the unique textile compositions by Amina Agueznay.