The artist Hassan Sharif who was considered one of the founders of conceptual art in the Middle East has died at the age of 65 on Sunday in Dubai.
Hassan Sharif was born in 1951, he lived and worked in Dubai, United Arab Emirates after studying in London at Byam Shaw School of Art (today part of Central Saint Martins) . His work is internationally respected and represented in major public collections, such as Sharjah Art Foundation in UAE, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.
He has made a vital contribution to conceptual art and experimental practice in the Middle East through 40 years of performances, installations, drawing, painting, and assemblage. Prior to leaving the UAE to study in England in 1979, Sharif gained attention for his cartoons published in the UAE press – ironic, outspoken critiques of the rapid industrialisation of the Emirates and political deadlock of 1970s Arab Nationalism.
As an artist, he rejected calligraphic abstraction, which was becoming the dominant discourse in the Middle East at that time, and pursued instead a pointedly contemporary vocabulary, drawing on the non-elitism and intermedia of Fluxus and the potential in British Constructionism’s systemic processes of making.
Sharif founded the Al Marijah Art Atelier in Sharjah, and was a founding member of the Emirates Fine Art Society and of the Art Atelier in the Youth Theatre and Arts, Dubai. In 2005, he was one of four artists to establish The Flying House, a Dubai art space dedicated to promoting contemporary Emirati artists that is primarily used as a museum nowadays.
In 2009, his works were shown in the UAE’s inaugural pavilion at the Venice Biennale and one of his installations which were made of used slippers and wire was shown at the Sydney Biennale that same year. Sharif was the first Emirati to show at Doha’s Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in 2010 and the following year at Abu Dhabi’s Qasr Al Hosn festival, as part of a retrospective of his career curated by Kazem and Catherine David, the deputy director of the National Museum of Modern Art the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris.
He was represented by Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde in Dubai as well as Alexander Gray in New York and had shown his work several times in Whitechapel Gallery in London.
To read this post in Arabic, click here.