The Musée d’art moderne et contemporain de Saint-Étienne Métropole (MAMC+), France, will be the third European venue to present Hassan Sharif: I Am The Single Work Artist, the most comprehensive survey of the artist’s work to date. Originally organised and presented by Sharjah Art Foundation in 2017, the exhibition traces nearly five decades of the artist’s multimedia practice, including painting, sculpture, assemblage, drawing, installation and photography as well as later works shown publicly for the first time. Co-curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, and Aurélie Voltz, General Director of MAMC+, the exhibition will be on view in Saint Étienne from 5 March to 26 September 2021.
The retrospective is a culmination of the artist’s lifelong role as an advocate and pioneer for the development of contemporary art in the United Arab Emirates, particularly in Sharjah, where he first began staging interventions and exhibitions of contemporary art and exhibited at the first Sharjah Biennial in 1993.
I Am The Single Work Artist traces the development of Sharif’s conceptual art practice from 1973 to 2016, highlighting his influence via key series revisited throughout his life that illustrate his enduring social and philosophical reflections on mathematical systems, time and the banality of the everyday.
A pioneer of conceptual art and experimental practice in the Middle East, 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 of these organisations have supported interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary art in the Emirates through mentorship and exhibition.
Since 1993, Sharif’s work has been exhibited in eight Sharjah Biennials, most recently at 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 extensively in international group exhibitions, including in the central pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennial (2017) and in 1980–Today: Exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates, UAE Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale (2015).
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.
Opened in 1987, the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain de Saint-Étienne Métropole (MAMC+) was the first French regional museum of modern and contemporary art. Its collection of nearly 20,000 works is amongst the most important in France. At the core of the collection are works of conceptual and minimal art, Fluxus, Arte Povera, and other practices such as those of the French movement Supports/Surfaces. Alongside the retrospective, four rooms will be dedicated to works from the MAMC+ collections that echo Sharif’s work and influences and give resonance to the artist’s use of everyday materials.
Following its presentation at Sharjah Art Foundation in 2017, Hassan Sharif: I Am The Single Work Artist travelled to KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, where it was curated by Al Qasimi and KW Institute Director Krist Gruijthuijsen and ran from 13 May to 19 July 2020, and to Malmö Konsthall, Sweden, where it was curated by Al Qasimi and Mats Stjernstedt, Director of Malmö Konsthall, and ran from 19 September 2020 to 10 January 2021.
The European tour of the exhibition has been organised by Sharjah Art Foundation in collaboration with KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Malmö Konsthall; and the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Saint-Étienne.
For more information, visit mamc.saint-etienne.fr/