Moroccan art? Thanks, he did pretty well.
Spurred by a golden age of renowned artists and a proud succession, Moroccan pictorial art attracts buyers small and large. Heterogeneous and dynamic market sketch.
Moroccan art? Thanks, he did pretty well. At the end of the year punctuated by the emotional yo-yo of the World Cup, two actors from the artistic scene put the finishing touches on a project that has impacted the national landscape.
The first, institutional in nature, is led by the National Museums Foundation (fnm.ma) and its tireless president Mehdi Qotbi. In early January, a new museum will open in the Oudayas district of Rabat. Inaugurated by a member of the royal family, it will be dedicated to Moroccan jewelery and will feature an impressive collection of clothing & accessories that depict a rich heritage that is thousands of years old..
A few days later, the private sector, Moroccan Art and Works Company (cmooa.com) will celebrate its 20th anniversary with great fanfare by holding its 77th auction sale with its full catalogue. Who will believe that? 20 years of professionally held auctions! His astonishment made Hicham Daoudi, the boss of a company with a very special social purpose, smile.
“Moroccans have always been art lovers, long before auctions, but also long before the emergence of art galleries in the modern sense. This trend started in the 1960s and word of mouth prevailed at the time. So-and-so knows so-and-so who judges so-and-so artists to paint beautiful paintings with interesting potential to score points.”
Score ! The word is out. Because, like any product with a commercial vocation, master painting is above all an investment that can generate huge returns on resale…, with the difference that it also incorporates an emotional and egocentric dimension. A painting speaks to us, captures us, carries us away. This is for the emotional component. The ego question is the fact of owning a rare and unique item that no one else, his peers, have.
Buying a painting: emotions, ego and placement!
“And it’s a bit of all this that makes up the art market in Morocco,” explains Aziz Daki, collector and owner of “Galerie21” who details: “Moroccans buy for many reasons. Out of passion, out of attention to placement, but also out of mimicry, considering so and so has “Melihi” or “Ben Cheffaj” at home and why not me? Shallow as it may be, but in doing so, we grow artistic fibers in descendants that perpetuate demand. There is also a middle class who buys paintings by unknown artists for aesthetic taste, or those who seek to obtain prints and lithographs by famous artists at reasonable prices.” Understandably, offering paintings to decorate its walls is not unusual. “Morocco is full of famous and less well-known artists. You only need to browse the souks and medinas to see the variety on offer. Actually there is something for everyone,” added Hicham Daoudi.
In a heterogeneous market of producers and buyers, one observation emerges. Several Moroccan artists have achieved worldwide fame and are commonly found in exhibitions in Paris, London, New York, Doha and Sharjah. “There are many examples. In England, for example, the Tate Modern Gallery has one of the oldest paintings in Belkahia, which is part of its permanent collection. This is the case of other museums around the world and more recently in the Middle East,” explained Daki.
That dynamic is maintained by the work of the National Museums Foundation (FNM), which organizes exhibitions in Morocco and abroad and lends works to foreign partner museums for exhibition purposes. Even better, “during the Covid period, the Foundation spent funds to acquire paintings by artists with the intention of exhibiting them and giving them visibility. This allows for the emergence of a younger generation,” Mehdi Qotbi rejoiced.
It must also be said that the Covid period became a catalyst to boost the buying action of paintings, all artists combined. “The offer counters have been digitized and find Moroccan audiences who sometimes don’t know where to look or what to look for”. Much better for artists and gallery owners…
A royal loan of 3,500 gems for a new museum
Dresses, jellabas, tunics, jewelry, shoes…. Moroccan jewelers will have a special museum that will open inside the historic Oudayas site in Rabat, in early January. This initiative is in honor of the National Foundation of Museums (FNM) who worked for several months to create this exhibition which purports to illustrate the extraordinary wealth of Moroccan heritage. As well as clothing and accessories, there are also shoes, rugs and even horse harness. “Evidence of the Ruler’s interest in Moroccan art, he provided 3,500 Berber jewelery from his private collection for the museum”,
said Mehdi Qotbi, president of FNM. A member of the royal family is also expected to inaugurate this high place’s conservation and preservation of its thousand year heritage.
In the turmoil that the Moroccan market is experiencing, there are some oddities to note in the structure of supply and demand. The fact that Morocco has world-famous artists creates a slight crowding-out effect. “When you know that a painting by a famous artist can be worth millions of dirhams, due to reduced sales supply, the pressure on demand becomes strong,” explains Aziz Daki. “Nowadays it’s easier to sell a painting worth 1 MDH than a painting worth 100,000 DH, because the investment potential used to be safer.” Evidence of this enthusiasm, the sale of two paintings by Belkahia and Chebaa a year ago in Morocco with a value exceeding 2 MDH each. Who said better!
Another consequence of this success. The emergence of counterfeit goods. Fake Gharbaoui, Melihi, Belkahia and many others hit the market because of their interesting quotes. The problem, explains one gallery owner, is that “Morocco’s legal arsenal does not extend specifically to fraud of this kind that combines intellectual property, commercial law and many other areas. Until now, there has not been an instance of punishment to serve as an example.” Success ransom money…