Rue des Vieux Marrakchis, Marrakech
Written by Mandy Sinclair
Since opening David Bloch Gallery in 2010, David Bloch has seen both the art market and the local street grow and develop.
Built during the French protectorate era from 1912 to 1956, Marrakech’s new town, Guéliz, which stands proudly opposite a large mosque built after independence, was originally built as a place for the French population to reside. Grand art deco buildings housing both apartments and offices were constructed along the main avenue, Mohamed V, which led to the nearby medina where the local population continued to reside.
Today, many of the Moorish art deco buildings remain, several of which are abandoned, including the Ciné-Palace and Koutoubia Hotel on Rue de la Liberté, while others house fine boutiques with local crafts, contemporary art galleries, and hip restaurants and cafés where locals hang out.
But it’s Rue des Vieux Marrakchis that caught David’s attention when searching for a gallery space. And it remains his favourite street as new businesses open.
“I visited this location, and then I had an idea of the gallery. Six years ago, the street was not the same. It was quite a mess. Michèle Baconnier and Moor had already set up shop,” explains David. “I think this is the only area in Marrakech where I can have a gallery. It’s the real centre. It’s the real designer and creator area.”
Today, elegant boutiques, including Atelier Nihal which sells its own hand-loomed cushions and clutch bags, have opened, and across the street Maroc’n Roll sells a collection of studded handbags.
Yet the cordonnier with his little trolley securely fixed on the corner and the fruit seller with in-season produce to sell off his cart remind passers-by of yesteryear.
The area has seen no shortage of rejuvenation, including the new shopping centre at the end of the street where a Radisson Blu hotel with a rooftop restaurant has also recently opened.
David frequents nearby Kechmara restaurant on Rue de la Liberté daily, along with the hip and trendy Marrakech set. Popular for an afternoon coffee streetside, or lunch on the rooftop terrace, the restaurant regularly hosts art exhibits as well as live music in the evenings.
David’s love of Morocco started 25 years ago. After working in fashion and then exporting Moroccan handicrafts worldwide, he opened an industrial-style contemporary art gallery focused on graffiti artists including REMED, MIST, and Yaze in Marrakech’s new city, Guéliz. After a short stint in nearby Casablanca, he returned to Marrakech, realising that the pace of Casablanca was not for a ‘guy from Paris’.
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