Born in Cairo in 1957 to Nubian and Egyptian parents, since graduating in 1984, Hassan lived in Le Marche, Italy, and currently lives and works in Edinburgh, Scotland. In his drawings, paintings, sculptures and installations, Hassan experiments with the written and spoken word, exploring the theme of ancient languages erased by colonial domination. With invented, Kufic-inspired scripts, he plays with the symbols, textures and calligraphy of his Nubian heritage to explore the space between graphic symbolism and literal meaning in vibrant colours and collage.
Over the past 30 years he has participated in numerous solo and group shows in Italy, including the 1988 Venice Biennale, in Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, Great Britain and New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Faces and Voices, John Rylands Library, Manchester (2012) Fathi Hassan: Transformation, Skoto Gallery New York (2011); Fathi Hassan, Leighton House Museum (2010); Tasaheel, Centro d’Arte L’idioma, Ascoli Piceno (2010); “Kenuz”, Domus Artis, Naples (2009) and a solo show at the Museo Nazionale Villa Pisani, Stra, Venice (2008). Group shows include: The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, London (2012); Rose Issa Projects at Abu Dhabi Art (2011); Arabicity at the Bluecoat Arts Centre, Liverpool, and Beirut Exhibition Center, Lebanon (2010); Text Messages at the October Gallery, London (2006); and an installation at The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC (2002).
His work is part of several public and private collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; The British Museum, London; Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC; The Farjam Foundation, Dubai; Fondazione Fausto Radici, Bergamo, Italy; Flash Art Museum, Trevi, Italy; The Barjeel Collection, Sharjah, UAE; Symphonia S.G.R, Milan; Williams College Museum of Art, Massachusetts, USA; The Clark Museum, Atlanta, USA and The Museum of Modern Egyptian Art, Cairo; Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, USA and Texas Southern University Museum, Houston, USA.