Fathi Hassan was born in Cairo to Nubian and Egyptian parents. Since graduating in 1984, he has lived in Le Marche, Italy, and currently works between Italy and Great Britain. Hassan experiments with the written and spoken word, exploring the theme of ancient languages erased by colonialism. Whether in photographs, paintings, installations, drawings, or written directly on walls, his texts are deliberately illegible in order to highlight the plight of lost languages and oral history as a result of 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. Forms are often given to these texts which can become as important as the text itself. These tend to be the organic forms of the natural world: the human face, leaves, plants, flowers, animals, the universe, and celestial bodies.
Hassan’s work is in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and the Farjam Foundation, among others. He also features in the recent book Lumières Africaines, published by Langages du Sud (2018).