Fathi Hassan: I can see you smiling Fatma

9 Apr-25 May 2024

Richard Saltoun
London W1S4NS


Richard Saltoun Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition with new works by Edinburgh-based, Egyptian born artist, Fathi HASSAN (b. 1957, Egypt), fusing his distinctive calligraphic motifs with a rich visual iconography drawn from his Nubian heritage. This will be Hassan's first exhibition at the gallery, following his participation in the 2023 Sharjah Biennial.  I can see you smiling Fatma highlights Hassan's engagement with the experience of migration, dislocation, diasporic identity, and shifting notions of heritage through language, iconography, memory, and mythmaking. 

These themes will be further expanded through his subsequent solo exhibition, Fathi Hassan: Shifting Sands, with The Sunderland Collection at No.9 Cork Street (May 31 - June 15, 2024), unveiling a new body of work created in response to items from The Sunderland Collection – an extraordinary private collection of rare antique world and celestial maps. For this show, the artist uses maps as a lens, incorporating motifs and images that have recurred throughout his practice, and drawing in new influences such as thinkers and creatives who have had a global influence on science or culture across borders.

The works in the exhibition continue Hassan’s excavation of his Nubian heritage. Incorporating images, colours and materials evoking cultural relics, cartographic fragments, and the essence of the landscape, these evocative compositions are layered with enigmatic inscriptions of ancient languages erased by colonialism. Though rooted in Kufic calligraphy, these scripts remain purposefully indecipherable, challenging the socio-cultural constructs of language and suggesting alternative ways of interpreting the relationship between text and image, the signifier and the signified. 

His portraits of Nubian Warriors are depicted against ornamental backgrounds populated by patterns, animals and people in a highly narrative, almost hieroglyphic style. Many of Hassan’s works bear imprints of his profound personal journey, paying homage to figures from revered philosophers to cherished family members, notably his mother, Fatma, to whom the exhibition is dedicated Thus, Hassan's exhibition serves as a poignant meditation on displacement, diasporic identity, and the multifaceted layers of language, distilled through the prism of his personal autobiography.



Fathi Hassan: I can see you smiling Fatma_Press Release