DUBAI: Located in the trendy Le Triangle district of Casablanca, a step inside the Loft Art Gallery is similar to visiting a white cubed artistic space in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York. This is exactly the experience that the sisters Myriem and Yasmine Berrada wanted to create when they opened the gallery in 2009. The largest and first white cube space dedicated to modern and contemporary art from Morocco and the African continent in Casablanca, Loft Art Gallery has, since its inception, played a key role in the career of some of the country’s most important artists, including Mohammed Melehi and Mohammed Hamidi. It also shed some light on some of Morocco’s leading younger artists, including Amina Agueznay, Hicham Benohoud and Mohammed Lekleti.

In recent years, Loft Art Gallery has extended its attention to sub-Saharan African artists, such as Joana Choumali, winner of the Prix Pictet photographic award and whose work is currently exhibited in the virtual exhibition “Hope”.

From its base in Morocco, a long-standing strategic bridge between Europe, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, Loft Art Gallery aims to showcase the talent of its artists to new collectors and institutions around the world.

“I first own a Moroccan art gallery, but my gallery is open to the world,” Berrada told Arab News. “I want it to serve as an artistic bridge between Morocco and the rest of the world, always keeping a focus on Africa. My goal is to improve intercultural dialogue through art for my artists, collectors and curators. ”

“Ablutions”, Joanna Choumali, 2020. Provided

Morocco has long been a historic crossroads for many cultures. The country has hosted Jews, Muslims, Berbers, Africans, Europeans and people across the Mediterranean.

“Moroccan artists are inspired by their homeland, but their artistic language is universal,” said Berrada. “Morocco’s multiculturalism gives the country its cultural richness”.

It is exactly the multicultural depth of the country that Berrada seeks to convey both within the MENA region and internationally.

“I want the gallery to be seen as a whole,” he told Arab News. “I want my gallery to act as a platform for the stories these artists tell through their work.”

Until the success of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the gallery participated in international art fairs, including Art Dubai, Art Paris, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Marrakech and AKAA (also known as Africa), a dedicated fair to African art and design in Paris.

The Loft Art Gallery regularly collaborates with international art institutions, including the Center Pompidou in Paris, the Tate Modern in London, the Giverny Museum in France and the Haus der Kunst in Munich, among others. It also has an editorial arm known as Loft Edition, which publishes books and catalogs on the history of modern and contemporary Moroccan art.

By Mohamed Melehi. Provided

“This is the first time that the whole world suffers from the same malaise. The art world has really been hit. Until recently, all museums were closed. Fairs have been canceled and sales are falling. We all have to work together during this time, “said Berrada.

“What has been fundamental for me is to maintain strong collaborations with collectors and my artists. It is vital for humanity to remain in close contact. Art has an important role to play. It connects people and, above all, different cultures. It offers hope and beauty at a time when we need it most. ”

Loft Art Gallery is one of the first Moroccan galleries to digitize. The gallery now has an e-commerce platform on its website where it sells art, a weekly newsletter and online viewing rooms. He also collaborated with Artsy, another channel through which he promotes his Moroccan and African artists worldwide.

“The Hole”, Hicham Benohoud, 2015. Instagram / @ loftartgallery

“This period has not been an easy one,” said Berrada. “I made sure that I was always in contact with our artists and that I continue to work on future programs. It has been essential to continue feeding our artists with hope by planning new projects and exhibitions.

“It was vital that our creativity didn’t stop, neither for us as a gallery nor for our artists. Creativity must continue. This is the only way to go. ”

In October, the gallery plans to host its first physical exhibition on textile works by contemporary Moroccan artists such as Amina Agueznay, along with more traditional interpretations of the craft.

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