Galeria do Castelo de Mértola (Mértola Castle Gallery) – from 19th May to 17th September 2022
One of the leading names in Moroccan contemporary painting, Moulay Youssef Elkahfaï was born in Marrakesh, where he lives and works. He graduated from the School of Fine Arts of Tetouan and currently organises and runs an Engraving and Silkscreen workshop in Marrakesh at the École Supérieure des Arts Visuels. Since 1988 he has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions. His works are part of the collection of the royal palace of Rabat, Morocco, and several private collections in France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Japan, Mexico, China, Lithuania, Canada, the UK and the USA. In his work, he likes to explore the essence of human emotions, transcend matter and stay within the spiritual, the emotional and the intangible. Besides painting, he also creates art with engraving and sculpture.
In the exhibition catalogue, Rosinda Pimenta states that “hosting, in Mértola, this exhibition of artist Moulay Youssef Elkahfaï means the fulfilment of an old ambition to bring to us the work and the person of what is admittedly one of the most important artists in the universe of contemporary plastic arts in Morocco. Moulay Youssef Elkahfaï honours us with this ‘Return’, also within the return of the Mértola Islamic Festival, which finally takes place after a break forced by the restrictions of the pandemic. And so, in the convergence of this return, this exhibition also manifests the resilience and perseverance of Culture and of its most direct agents, the artists, against the current adverse times.
Approaching the work of Moulay Youssef Elkahfaï, I highlight the sublime figurative work of his compositions, where combined techniques and diversified materials are mixed and interwoven with mastery. With a very powerful expressionism, one can perceive in his work a taste for the essence of human emotions, expressed in faces and bodies marked by imprecise, sometimes shapeless, timeless forms, amplified in their expressiveness and symbolism by the decisive use of colour. Faces and bodies, the physical matter entangled to expose the intangible: the human complexity and vulnerability, so universal and so evident in the times we live in today. At the exhibition in Mértola, we will meet this universe of colour and expression, so organic, so human, so poetic and penetrating, exactly what the artist has accustomed us to”.