The Sharjah Art Foundation exhibition Hassan Sharif: I Am The Single Work Artist is currently on view at Malmö Konsthall from 19 September 2020 to 10 January 2021. Originally curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, the exhibition was first staged in 2017–2018 at the Foundation and was the most extensive presentation of the late artist’s prominent career. Following its 2020 presentation at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, the exhibition is currently on view at its second European venue, Malmö Konsthall, curated by Mats Stjernstedt, Director of Malmö Konsthall and Hoor Al Qasimi.
Hassan Sharif: I Am The Single Work Artist traces nearly five decades of the artist’s multimedia practice, through over 150 works from the artist’s diverse oeuvre, which range from early satirical cartoons and documentation of performances in the Hatta desert to sculptural works that were produced in the last year of his life, and emphasizes the artist’s sculptural works and objects.
“Hassan Sharif was a strong advocate for the contemporary art community in the Emirates and the impact of his highly experimental, prescient body of work continues to reverberate today,” said Hoor Al Qasimi. “We are humbled to have worked with him since his presentation at the first Sharjah Biennial in 1993 and to have witnessed his incredible impact through the years, and we are delighted to partner with a distinguished institution like Malmö Konsthall to showcase his work to new audiences around the world.”
A pioneer of conceptual art and experimental practice in the Middle East, Hassan Sharif explored form, time, social action and mathematical systems throughout his career. His work is marked by the use of common materials in accumulative installations as well as complex social and philosophical reflection. Moving between roles as artist, educator, critic and writer, Sharif worked to encourage the engagement of local audiences with contemporary art through his Arabic translations of historical art texts and manifestos. He was a founder of The Flying House, Dubai (2007); Art Atelier, Youth Theatre and Arts, Dubai (1987); Al Mureijah Art Atelier, Sharjah (1984) and Emirates Fine Arts Society, Sharjah (1980). All these organisations support interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary art in the Emirates through mentorship and exhibition.
Accompanying the exhibition tour is the eponymous monograph published by Sharjah Art Foundation and Koenig Books, London. Edited by Hoor Al Qasimi, the publication presents the Foundation’s research into Sharif’s multidisciplinary practice. The major publication, which includes images of lost works, original English translations from his journalistic and experimental writings alongside archival materials from ephemeral exhibitions, as well as dialogues and reflections by Sharif’s contemporaries in the UAE, the book is not a typical exhibition catalogue or a chronological book, but an experimental work that reflects Sharif’s practice and weaves a personal narrative from the various threads of his career. The publication serves as a vital resource for scholarly and curatorial interest in contemporary art practice, and as a reference for how cultural ideas travel and, in the process, are transformed.
Since 1993, Sharif’s work has also been exhibited in eight Sharjah Biennials, most recently in Sharjah Biennial 12 (2015) and over 90 of his works are currently part of the Foundation’s collection, from small works on paper to large installations. The Foundation is also custodian of Sharif’s studio and personal archives. Sharif’s work has also been shown in 1980–Today: Exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates, UAE Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale (2015); and ADACH Platform for Visual Arts, 53rd Venice Biennale (2009).
Sharif graduated from the Byam Shaw School of Art, London (1984), and returned to the UAE, where he began staging interventions and exhibitions of contemporary art in Sharjah. He lived and worked in Dubai until his death in 2016.
Public programmes at Malmö Konsthall
19 September 2020–10 January 2021
Running alongside the exhibition are a number of educational public programmes, inspired by the work of Hassan Sharif, including a range of activities in Arabic.
The Konsthall will be providing visitors the opportunity to experience the major retrospective through audio tours designed for adults and children in Swedish, English and Arabic. Throughout the exhibition, Malmö Konsthall will also be offering educational programmes that are suitable for visitors of all ages, including guided tours and creative workshops in Arabic. Educational activities around Hassan Sharif: I am The Single Work Artist also include a book club that focuses on works related to the exhibition and the programme, ‘Change the Arts’, introducing youth ages 15 to 19 to the basics of artistic critique, publication-making and how to design a guided exhibition tour.
This exhibition is organised by Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE), KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Germany) and Malmö Konsthall (Sweden). The presentation at KW Institute for Contemporary Art is curated by Hoor Al Qasimi and Krist Gruijthuijsen, and at Malmö Konsthall by Hoor Al Qasimi and Mats Stjernstedt.
For more information, visit www.konsthall.malmo.se
About Hassan Sharif
A pioneer of conceptual art and experimental practice in the Middle East, Hassan Sharif explored form, time, social action and mathematical systems throughout his career. His work is marked by the use of common materials in accumulative installations as well as complex social and philosophical reflection. Rejecting calligraphic abstraction, the dominant regional art discourse in the 1970s, Sharif pursued a contemporary art vocabulary that drew upon the non-elitism and intermedia of the art collective Fluxus and the systemic processes of making found in British Constructionism.
Moving between roles as artist, educator, critic and writer, Sharif worked to encourage the engagement of local audiences with contemporary art through his Arabic translations of historical art texts and manifestos. He was a founder of The Flying House, Dubai (2007); Art Atelier, Youth Theatre and Arts, Dubai (1987); Al Mureijah Art Atelier, Sharjah (1984) and Emirates Fine Arts Society, Sharjah (1980). All these organisations support interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary art in the Emirates through mentorship and exhibition.
Solo exhibitions of his work include Hassan Sharif: I Am The Single Work Artist, Sharjah Art Foundation (2017); Hassan Sharif: Objects and Files, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha (2016); Hassan Sharif; Experiments & Objects 1979–2011, Qasr Al Hosn, Abu Dhabi (2011) and Hassan Sharif, Sharjah Art Museum (2007).
His work has also been shown in the group exhibitions Australia and the Pacific: Selection of the Asia Pacific Triennial of the Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, Centro Cultural La Moneda, Santiago, Chile (2019); Artists and the Cultural Foundation: The Early Years, Cultural Foundation, Abu Dhabi (2019); Odradek, Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2018); The Monochrome Revisited, Jean-Paul Najar Foundation, Dubai (2018); We Began by Measuring Distance, Musee d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva (2018); The Creative Act: Performance - Process - Presence, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (2017); But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community 1988–2008, New York University Abu Dhabi (2017); Is Old Gold?, Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre (2017); do it بالعربي, Sharjah Art Foundation (2016); 1980–Today: Exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates, UAE Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale (2015); Adventures of the Black Square, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2015); Artevida (Corpo), Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (2014); Une Histoire: Art, Architecture and Design from the 1980s to the Present, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2014); Here and Elsewhere, New Museum, New York (2014); 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012); Systems and Patterns, International Centre of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia (2012); Interventions, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha (2010); ADACH Platform for Visual Arts, 53rd Venice Biennale (2009); Language of the Desert, Kunstmuseum, Bonn, Germany (2005); 5 UAE, Ludwig Forum for International Art, Aachen, Germany (2002); and The Contemporary Arts of the Arab World, Darat Al Funun, Amman (2000). Since 1993, Sharif’s work has also been exhibited in eight Sharjah Biennials, most recently in Sharjah Biennial 12 (2015).
His work is part of the collections at M+, Hong Kong; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; Sharjah Art Museum; and Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah.
Sharif graduated from the Byam Shaw School of Art, London (1984), and returned to the UAE, where he began staging interventions and exhibitions of contemporary art in Sharjah.
He was born in 1951 in Dubai, where he lived and worked until his death in 2016.
About Sharjah Art Foundation
Sharjah Art Foundation is an advocate, catalyst and producer of contemporary art within the Emirate of Sharjah and the surrounding region, in dialogue with the international arts community. Under the leadership of founder Hoor Al Qasimi, a curator and artist, the foundation advances an experimental and wide-ranging programmatic model that supports the production and presentation of contemporary art, preserves and celebrates the distinct culture of the region and encourages a shared understanding of the transformational role of art. The foundation’s core initiatives include the long-running Sharjah Biennial, featuring contemporary artists from around the world; the annual March Meeting, a convening of international arts professionals and artists; grants and residencies for artists, curators and cultural producers; ambitious and experimental commissions and a range of travelling exhibitions and scholarly publications.
Established in 2009 to expand programmes beyond the Sharjah Biennial, which launched in 1993, the foundation is a critical resource for artists and cultural organizations in the Gulf and a conduit for local, regional and international developments in contemporary art. The foundation’s deep commitment to developing and sustaining the cultural life and heritage of Sharjah is reflected through year-round exhibitions, performances, screenings and educational programmes in the city of Sharjah and across the Emirate, often hosted in historic buildings that have been repurposed as cultural and community centers. A growing collection reflects the foundation’s support of contemporary artists in the realization of new work and its recognition of the contributions made by pioneering modern artists from the region and around the world.
Sharjah Art Foundation is a legally independent public body established by Emiri Decree and supported by government funding, grants from national and international nonprofits and cultural organizations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons. All exhibitions are free and open to the public.
About Malmö Konsthall
Malmö Konsthall has taken world renowned international artists to Malmö since 1975: Louise Bourgeois, Peter Greenaway, Cindy Sherman, Edvard Munch, Joan Miró, Ernesto Neto and Olafur Eliasson among others. Exhibiting both international and national art, from the classics of modernism to current experiments, Malmö Konsthall explores artistry in the margins of current trends, both artistic and societal.
More recent exhibitions include Joan Jonas, Damian Ortega and Rosa Barba. The hit of last year was the Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz, whose exhibition The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist attracted nearly 90,000 visitors to Malmö Konsthall.
Malmö Konsthall have one of the largest exhibition spaces for contemporary art in Sweden. The building itself is a work of art – the architect Klas Anshelm has created an award-winning room with great flexibility, generous space and a fantastic light. Each year, Malmö Konsthall has about four large exhibitions and about 180,000 visitors.
About KW Institute for Contemporary Art
KW Institute for Contemporary Art aims to approach the central questions of our times through the production, display, and dissemination of contemporary art. Since its inception more than 25 years ago, KW has established itself, not only as an institution, but also as a dynamic and lively space for progressive practices within the Berlin art scene, as well as in an international context. By means of exhibitions and various event formats, KW has aligned itself towards the current tendencies of the national and international art and cultural discourse, and has actively developed them on a collaborative level with artists, institutions, and by means of commissioned works. As an institution for contemporary art without a collection of its own, the team at KW maintains a high degree of flexibility in creating its programs and addressing its audience.
Under the responsibility of director Krist Gruijthuijsen, the current program evolves around the central objective of using the participating artists’ perspective as a starting point, entailing their subjects and points of view as ways to reflect on social and political issues. The institution is thereby conceived as a social space that facilitates contemplation and exchange between different protagonists and cultures, consistently challenging its audience.
Sharjah is the third largest of the seven United Arab Emirates and the only one bridging the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Reflecting the deep commitment to the arts, architectural preservation and cultural education embraced by its ruler, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Sharjah is home to more than 20 museums and has long been known as the cultural hub of the United Arab Emirates. In 1998, it was named UNESCO's 'Arab Capital of Culture' and has been designated the UNESCO ‘World Book Capital’ for the year 2019.
Alyazeyah Al Reyaysa