The wave meant music and movement. It is communication in space (sound waves, visual waves, video-tape). It represents continuity, sky, woman, sensuality, water, pulsating rhythm. It is calm. (Mohammed Melehi)
In Mohammed Melehi's works created since the early 1960s, we find a large number of recurring symbols and vocabulary such as lines with different thicknesses, geometrical shapes and waves which reveal the artist's interest in the scientific research and theories about the four elements; earth, water, air and fire.
In his earlier works, the elements are depicted as simple lines swelling and twisted in stripes. These were later turned into flames and the artist introduced other forms such as the rays, circles, disks and rainbows. Following Morocco's independence in 1956, artists created an aesthetic dialogue between their cultural heritage and the post-colonial visual culture. That is when a number of artists including Mohammed Melehi, Ahmed Cherkaoui, Jilali Gharbaoui and Farid Belkahia became the pioneers of Modern Abstract painting in Morocco.
Mohammed Melehi studied abroad in Europe and in the United States, where he also taught at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, later receiving a scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation in New York before returning to Morocco in 1965. Upon his return, his works revealed his inspiration from the Western artistic techniques and combined them with references to traditional Moroccan arts and crafts with its signs and symbols. During his time in the United States, Melehi discovered his own interest in the cultural heritage of his homeland and hence focused on the abstraction of cultural signs and symbols throughout his works. The more he spent time abroad, the closer he became to his Moroccan heritage. This is when his palette became stronger, bolder and composed of more primitive colours.
The Moroccan poet and writer Tahar Benjelloun links Melehi's exploration of the wave to the artist's birthplace, the coastal town of Asilah:
'We recall that he was born in a house that opens onto the sea and that his entire childhood was marked by the whims of the sea and the seasons.'
Melehi's waves would later be rendered in the public spaces of his hometown when, in 1978, he and Mohamed Benaissa created the Al Mouhit Cultural Association, a non-political organization with purely cultural objectives. This resulted in the Asilah Cultural Moussem, an annual festival held every summer, which includes a mural-painting event (first held in April 1978), a project that has revived the formerly dilapidated appearance of the artist's birthplace. Asilah is now celebrated for its vividly coloured murals, many of which have been created by Melehi himself.