Fathi Hassan

Egyptian-born artist Fathi Hassan is recognised for mixed-media paintings, drawings and installations incorporating the written word. This piece is part of a series of works carrying the theme 'Haram Aleikum', an Arabic phrase that can be roughly translated as “Shame on You”, but expressing broader themes of pity and forbidden practice.

Hassan, who has lived in Italy since 1984, uses the series to reply to his experience as a North African residing in Europe, as well as to the stressed politics plaguing West and Middle East ties. Hassan, born in Cairo in 1957 to a Nubian family, often avoids emphasising the meaning of words in order not to restrict his intentions while heartening the imaginations of the viewer. He sometimes covers his canvases with phonemes – the smallest units of sound in a language – and often includes Arabic, Indian or Latin numerals referring to key dates in his personal life or marking historical events of the places he has lived.

Hassan’s work is on permanent collection at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum and Washington’s Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Over 30 years, Hassan has taken part in solo and group shows across Europe, the Middle East and the United States.