‘I Can See You Smiling Fatma’ by Fathi Hassan at Richard Saltoun Gallery

Richard Saltoun Gallery announces the solo exhibition of Fathi Hassan, an Edinburgh-based artist born in Egypt in 1957. Titled ‘I Can See You Smiling Fatma,’ the exhibition, dedicated to his mother, showcases Hassan’s recent paintings and a site-specific mural, marking his debut at the gallery following his participation in the 2023 Sharjah Biennial.

Fathi HASSAN 1957 – Order of Things, 2023, Mixed media on paper, 150 x 100 cm.

Hassan’s upbringing, influenced by his Nubian and Egyptian heritage, deeply informs his artistic expression. Forced to leave Nubia due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam, Hassan’s family resettled, shaping his experiences of migration and dislocation. Despite these challenges, he pursued artistic studies in Italy, where he gained prominence.

The upcoming exhibition at Richard Saltoun Gallery explores Hassan’s engagement with themes of migration, diasporic identity, and heritage. Through evocative compositions blending calligraphic motifs with Nubian iconography, Hassan excavates his cultural roots, incorporating elements reminiscent of cultural relics and cartographic fragments. His artworks challenge linguistic constructs, featuring indecipherable scripts layered with profound meaning.

Fathi HASSAN 1957 – Frankenstein, The Mountain Giant, 2023, Mixed media on paper, 150 x 100 cm.

A highlight of the exhibition is a large-scale, site-specific mural echoing Hassan’s calligraphic style. Portraits of Nubian Warriors, set against ornamental backgrounds, invite viewers into a narrative world rich in symbolism, reminiscent of hieroglyphics. Many of Hassan’s works pay homage to influential figures and family members, particularly his mother, Fatma, underscoring the exhibition’s reflection on displacement and diasporic identity.

The exhibition serves as a meditation on the interconnected layers of language and personal autobiography, inviting viewers to contemplate the complexities of identity and belonging. This exploration will continue in Hassan’s subsequent exhibition, ‘Fathi Hassan: Shifting Sands,’ at No.9 Cork Street, where he will unveil new works inspired by items from The Sunderland Collection. Incorporating motifs from antique maps, Hassan’s art expands to encompass global influences, bridging diverse cultural and historical contexts.

Fathi HASSAN 1957 – Nubian Moon, 2023, Mixed media on paper, 160 x 150 cm.

About Fathi Hassan

Fathi Hassan, born in Cairo in 1957 to Nubian and Egyptian parents, is celebrated for his multifaceted exploration of calligraphy across various artistic mediums, including photography, painting, installation, and drawing. His body of work sheds light on the erosion of indigenous languages and oral histories due to the impacts of colonialism. Rising to prominence on the international art scene during the 1980s, Hassan made history as one of the first African and Arab artists to participate in the Venice Biennale in 1988. For many years, Hassan split his time between Italy and Great Britain before ultimately settling in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2018. Notable exhibitions include “Whispers” at the Lawrie Shabibi Gallery in Dubai (2019), “Migration of Signs” at the Williams Museum in Massachusetts (2015), and “The Depth of Hope” at V.C.U. Qatar in Doha (2014), “Faces and Voices” at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, UK (2012), “Fathi Hassan: Transformation” at the Skoto Gallery in New York (2011), and “Containers of Memory” at the Annina Nosei Gallery in New York (1995).

Location: Richard Saltoun Gallery, London

Dates: 9 April – 25 May 2024

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