Mehdi Qotbi

Artist and President,
Moroccan National Foundation of Museums

Mr. Mehdi Qotbi, born in Rabat to a modest family, discovered his talent for painting while attending military school in Kenitra. He attended the School of Fine Arts in Rabat and devoted two years (1968-1969) to painting. When he was 17 years old, he knew artistic creativity was his passion. After meeting painter Jillali Gharbaoui, Qotbi was moved by the poetic quality of Gharbaoui’s work. Gharbaoui, who encouraged Qotbi to persevere in his poetic quest, helped him sell his first two paintings.

In 1969, Qotbi enrolled in Toulouse’s School of Fine Arts in France and graduated in 1972. He moved to Paris and started taking classes at the School of Fine Arts while teaching courses in drawing and painting. Shortly after enrolling, his work started to gain notoriety.

The originality of Qotbi’s artistic approach lies in the way he establishes a dialogue between writing and painting. He intertwines the two intimately and amorously by digging into his Muslim-Arab origins. He appropriates Arabic calligraphy in order to re-invent it, thus elaborating an imaginary ideography made of delicately embroidered lattice-like scriptural signs, painted with gouache, acrylic or ink. Qotbi’s moving artwork is not defined to any given genre. His work is at the crossroads of the figurative, symbolic and abstract art.

Some of Qotbi’s awards include the following: named Commander of the Legion of Honor, Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, Commander of the National Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, Officer of the Order of the Crown, Officer of the French National Order of Merit, and Knight of the Order of Academic Palms.

As a member of the Advisory Council for Human Rights in Morocco he works relentlessly to foster understanding between the Western world, Morocco and the Maghreb through the Franco-Moroccan Friendship Circle where he is both president and founder. He is also founder and editor of the association “Trait d’Union Maroc-Europe” or “La Lettre Ensemble.”

In 2011, he was appointed as President of the Fondation Nationale des Musées au Maroc.  (National Foundation of Museums in Morocco). Today, Qotbi pursues his work in parallel with his new duties.