Melehi, Mohammed (1936--) By Powers, Jean Holiday
Mohammed Melehi is known as one of the leading modernist figures in Morocco. Since the 1960s, Melehi has produced a body of work based around a recurrent motif of waves. His canvases are consistently hard-edged and feature optic abstractions—the lines are clean, the colors clearly delineated, and the brushstrokes and movements of the paintbrush are not visible. The waves have been linked to the waves of the beaches of Asilah (Melehi’s hometown), the gesture of writing Arabic calligraphy, and to transcendence and prayer. Beyond his painting, Melehi’s career has been prolific: he has taught, published, produced policy, and worked as a graphic designer. He was a professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Casablanca (1964–1969), and was an active member of the group surrounding the leftist cultural journal Souffles from 1966 to 1969, designing its iconic original cover. From 1972 to 1977, Melehi was founder and director of the cultural journal Intégral. In 1974, he co-founded and became the director of the publishing house Shoof. In 1978, Melehi and Mohammed Benaïssa co-founded the Al Mohit association and the annual cultural Moussem of Asilah, an arts festival known for its outdoor murals which remains active to this day. Melehi was arts director at the Ministry of Culture from 1984 to 1992.