Fathi Hassan: Soul Taming
Sulger-Buel Gallery, London, United Kingdom
15 Apr 2021 - 31 May 2021
Fathi Hassan is an artist, a poet, a dreamer; but, most of all, he is a dynamic creative set on taming his wild spirit and wandering soul through his art and meditations. Hassan’s visual work firstly pulls in the viewer with its bold lines, then the floating texts, figures and symbols. Once that information and layer is absorbed, his pieces translate into a higher level of an alchemical synthesis. His articulation unto the canvas is a deep form of poetry.
Essential to his work is the exploration of identity as he constantly challenges, superimposes, writes and links events, past and present, to contemplate possible futures and potentialities. Hassan’s diasporic adventure for almost four decades reflects the displacement and journey between different spaces, times, perspectives and memories. His creations also reveal a love and passion for classical music and Opera, wherein lines translate into visual melodies of emotions. His attention to numbers, codes, letters and musical notes are weaved back into his compositions reflecting a multidimensional orientation.
Hassan’s tapestries can also be experienced as archival material containing delicate traces of his Nubian culture and its place in the Arab world, wherein the Arabic calligraphy intersects and blends into symbols. In some instances the letters and the words sharply cut through the Nubian-African heritage to suggest a struggle and the fight for domination and survival. This suspended state is a powerful reminder of not only the past, but also inherently of what is happening today politically, socially and culturally.
Ultimately the artist’s work is to record, store, archive and tame the memories of dreams, souls, life and desire. His quest to pin down a hybrid-cultural form of self and identity continues and is ever so resonant with current events and trends. His utilising of the desert and forest imagery is a tool to reflect upon the injustices and inequalities of the human condition and existential state of being. He also does a brilliant job in bringing forward a Sufi elemental landscape as well as responding to the more recent crisis relating to Covid-19, referring to the traumatic post-Arab Spring period, the rise of the conservative right in the West and the deconstruction of democracy.