Born in 1910, Jacques Azéma was a French artist who made Marrakech his home in 1930. At the age of twenty, he had traveled throughout North Africa, until he finally settled in Morocco, his home for the next fifty years.
Azéma’s work grew from his fascination with Morocco’s geometric patterns prevalent in its architecture, mosques, and tiled walls and floors. Influenced by the works of the Surrealists, his soft, richly colored works include scenes of artisans at work, Marrakech street scenes, entertainers in the Jemma el Fna square, and local traditions among the people.
Azéma’s small-format paintings reveal a dreamlike representation of Morocco, which closely represents the pictorial language of such surrealists as Giorgio de Chirico and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. Azéma’s paintings greatly influenced a large number of aspiring Moroccan artists during the 1930s, including Marrakech artist Mohamed Ben Allel, whom Azéma encouraged to paint without heed of traditions.
Jacques Azéma was a professor of drawing and painting in Marrakech. As part of the group organized by Mahjoub Ben Seddik, one of the founders of the Moroccan Labor Union, Azéma taught painting workshops at Casblanca’s École des Beaux-Arts from 1962 to 1974. He also taught animated painting workshps at Marrkech’s Lycée Mangin High School, where he made an impact on its art students.
Jacques Azéma passed away in 1979 in Marrakech. A retrospective of his lifetime achievements and unique body of work was shown in 2008-2009 at the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech. Many of his works are in private collections.
Here are some of Jacques Azéma works: