View full screen - View 1 of Lot 7. Les deux rouges.

Property from the Safieddine Brothers, Europe

Mohamed Melehi

Les deux rouges

Lot Closed

March 29, 02:07 PM GMT


40,000 - 60,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property from the Safieddine Brothers, Europe

Mohamed Melehi

1936 - 2020

Les deux rouges

signed and dated '97 on the reverse

oil on canvas

80 by 60 cm. 31½ by 23½ in.

framed: 94 by 74cm. 37 by 29¼ in.

The Artist
Safieddine Collection, Brussels (gifted directly by the above to the present owner)

“Hard-edge painting made me rediscover the abstraction inherent in Islamic art. […] Morrocan art was always hard edge.”

The artist to the Guardian in Give us a swirl: How Mohamed Melehi became Morocco's modernist master, The Guardian, 2019

The period of the 70s and 80s is by far the most prolific for the artist’s career. Having featured in various landmark exhibitions in America and the Middle East, he perfected his flat, hard-edge shapes, and gradually progressed toward less structured, yet still extremely precise designs. In this aspect, his work resembles that of Ellsworth Kelly or Kenneth Noland. This unique painting is distinctive of the shift operated in Melehi’s output. His signature wave motif is exacerbated in voluptuous transversal curves crossing the canvas. With no apparent representational purpose, this painting is a masterpiece of abstractionism, through the interplay of hard-edge colour fields and rigorous geometry creating a mesmerizing illusion of depth.

In their research for a new artistic practice, Melehi and his Casablanca school companions, Chabaa and Ataallah, learned to reconnect with the aesthetic conceptions of Islamic art. At the heart of this discipline, the principle of conveying ideas through shapes, with no recourse to figural representation, motivated the artists to introduce new bodies of symbols within their work. While rainbows, flames and rays were among the most frequent motifs, Melehi and Chabaa were also influenced by Arabic calligraphy techniques. The present work, through its abstract yet controlled geometric construction paired with contrasting flat fields of colours, is reminiscent of an Arabic inscription, working as a paraph for Melehi’s unique work and his quest for a Moroccan artistic identity.

In comparison with earlier works, this painting shows Melehi experimenting with more complex, cluttered shapes while working on finding new harmonies. This aesthetic persisted in his later production, such as an Untitled work (2008) sold in these rooms during the March 28, 2018 Modern & Contemporary African Art sale (lot 65).



The Guardian, 2019. Give us a swirl: How Mohamed Melehi became Morocco's modernist master,