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Omar Hassan

Using spray paint as both a material and a sculptural object, Omar Hassan creates new iterations within the ever-expanding genre of street art. Inspired by environments urban and natural, Hassan says he finds inspiration in the work of graffiti pioneers such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and in Jackson Pollock’s masterful abstractions. Both his multilayered works on […]

Omar Hassan

Using spray paint as both a material and a sculptural object, Omar Hassan creates new iterations within the ever-expanding genre of street art. Inspired by environments urban and natural, Hassan says he finds inspiration in the work of graffiti pioneers such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and in Jackson Pollock’s masterful abstractions. Both his multilayered works on […]

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Using spray paint as both a material and a sculptural object, Omar Hassan creates new iterations within the ever-expanding genre of street art. Inspired by environments urban and natural, Hassan says he finds inspiration in the work of graffiti pioneers such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and in Jackson Pollock’s masterful abstractions. Both his multilayered works on canvas and those cast in plaster or bronze reflect his trademark attention to materiality. His work takes various forms, from whimsical dappled splotches partially obscuring a classical oil painting to lines of wet paint that snake and drip down picture frames to a street installation of raised cubes covered in rainbow tones. All of his work reflects his desire to encapsulate the mischievous and the playful, a sentiment at the core of the now 40-year-old tradition of street art.

Interview with Omar Hassan on ARTNET:

Can you explain your boxing-inspired technique?
The creation of my Breaking Through paintings involves me dipping my boxing gloves into an array of colorful paint pots and punching onto large white canvases, in a very physical display of strength. I wanted to celebrate the concept of boxing, so I introduced a new kind of perfomative action which is very spontaneous and has lots of impact visually.
I always wanted to incorporate boxing in my artistic research. I also think that we are all boxers, and even though my art is autobiographical it can be understood by everyone.
In boxing, as in life, you are alone: Boxing requires hard work and daily effort. When you are knocked down, you must get back up on your feet and continue to fight.
There was also a risk that my performance could be seen as too theatrical and rehearsed, and I definitely wanted to avoid that. I wanted to create a link between my body, the canvas and those noble movements of boxing, and to express this link through color.

Can you tell us more about the relationship between an aggressive sport like boxing and art?
I know that boxing may seem like a violent sport where two men beat each other in the middle of a ring, but it is a discipline that teaches you to become a better man.
I have always said that I wanted to incorporate a very important aspect of my life into my artistic research: Namely boxing, the sport that has given me so much on both a personal and educational level.
I wanted to bring to light the concept that lies behind this sport, which for me is a true metaphor for life. In real life you are alone and you have to fight.
In the ring, you have a few minutes of break and then you have to fight again, sometimes you are knocked down to the ground but then you have to get up and start fighting again. This, for me, is the real meaning of life.
I also think that boxing works well in terms of synthesizing a pictorial gesture with a strong visual impact. In fact, I am not someone who is promoting violence, and I am not punching the colors into the canvas with a violent thought. A punch has an incredible amount of concentrated energy that should not be considered in a negative light; it is both an acceleration of energy and a very fast movement.

Do you think the action of your performance is more important, or the finished result?
All of my work stems from an idea, from a concept—technique is never the starting point for me. In regards to the ‘’action’’ and the result of it, both are as important to me. They are consequences of each other, and they are interlinked and connected. There is no performance without a final result, and no final result without a performance. They depend on each other.
I like to explore and bring out dualities, both present in real life and art. Like rationality and irrationality, for example, or spontaneity and consciousness.

What influences you? Your artwork certainly recalls one of the great action painters, Jackson Pollock.
I must say he is one of my favorite artists. Personally, I have always been committed to keeping my painting contemporary and current—Nowadays it is very difficult to be original and contemporary with painting because of the amount of techniques that have already been explored throughout art history.
Today, producing a painting means assuming a responsibility. I want to take on this responsibility—carry an artistic research through all sorts of mediums and techniques. I don’t want to remain static.
My approach has always remained the same from the time I started using cans of spray paint, the tools that originally inspired me to practice art and explore artistic expression. The can of spray paint became like a breath of life, bringing together my entire culture and tradition, leading me to more impetuous and instinctive gestures, like that of the punch in the Breaking Through paintings.

Do you still box?
I started boxing as a young teenager. One might say to control my “fiery personality,” and also because I consider boxing a truly noble discipline. I fought and trained with great Italian champions, and managed to be chosen to fight in a great tournament. I never told them I had diabetes, and it is during the strict exams for this tournament that they discovered it, and I was disqualified.
There is a strict rule in boxing preventing anyone with diabetes to fight, as it is considered an aggravated risk.
Even though I could not go on and fight on a professional level, I had always continued to practice this sport and even train some teenagers and kids.
I still box, but it is more to stay fit and healthy. My number one priority right now is my art.

 

Solo Exhibitions

2020
Sopra Sotto, Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani, Milan, Italy
SottoSopra, Palazzo delle Arti Napoli, Naples, Italy

2019
Waiting For, Isorropia Homegallery Turin, Italy

2018
The Essential is Invisible to the Eyes: a dialogue with Wassily Kandinsky
Orangerie, Villa Reale Monza, Italy

2017
Stand Solo at Miami SCOPE Beach Art Fair, Miami, USA
Breaking Through Lugano, Lugano, Switzerland
Do Ut Des, Chiesetta della Misericordia, Venice, Italy
Breaking Through Bologna, Royal Carlton, Bologna, Italy

2016
Breaking Through New York, UNIX Gallery, New York, USA
Breaking Through Milan, MAC Center, Milan, Italy

2015
Breaking Through, ContiniArtUK, London, United Kingdom

2014
The essential is invisible to the eye, Montesegale Castle, Pavia, Italy

2012
Jab, Jab !! ,Colossi Contemporary Art, Brescia, Italy

2011
HO2, Fabbrica Eos, Milan, Italy

2009
Gaijin, Musashy Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

Group Exhibitions:

2019
Art Basel Miami, Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani, Miami, Florida
Artissima Turin
Prometeo Gallery Ida Pisani, Turin, Italy

2018

Vs Cravan, curated by Elisabetta Longari, Visconti Gym c /o Circolo Arci Bellezza Milan, Italy
“ART ÉLYSÉES 2018” Paris, France
“Breaking Through Saint Tropez” ,in Saint-Tropez, France
Arte Fiera Bologna 2018, Bologna, Italy

2017

Beirut Art Fair, ContiniArtUK, Beirut International Exhibition & Leisure Center Down Town,
Beirut, Lebanon
Bologna Arte Fiera, Bologna Exhibition Center, Bologna, Italy,
Nominated for the 11th edition of the ‘Euromobil Under 30 Award’ in Bologna, Italy

2016
“Color and Matter”, Pied a Terre, Porto Cervo, Italy
Motomorfosi: special project with Ducati and Sotheby’s, La Triennale di
Milano, Milan, Italy
START, Saatchi Gallery, London, United Kingdom
WOP Art, Lugano, Switzerland

2015

Cairo Prize, Group exhibition as a finalist of the Cairo Art Prize, Palazzo della Permanente,
Milan, Italy
“Breaking Through Miami” in support of DRI in collaboration with St Regis and Rosenbaum
Contemporary, Miami, Florida, USA
Summer Show, Just Cavalli, Ibiza, Spain
Miami Art Fair, Miami, Florida, USA
Group exhibition, Rosenbaum Contemporary, Bal Harbor, Florida, USA
ART STAGE, Singapore, Singapore
ArtWynwood Miami, Rosenbaum Contemporary, Miami, Florida, USA

2014

Eccentrico Musivo, MAR, Museum of Contemporary Art, Ravenna, Italy
Something of Impact, Castello di Gambolò, Pavia, Italy
2013
Artist Chairs, SIM-PATIA, Triennale di Milano
Crystal Le Club, Crystal Palace, Brescia, Italy
ArtVerona, Colossi Contemporary Art, Verona, Italia

2013
Bubble, Terrazza Aperol, Piazza Duomo, Milan, Italia
Orientalmente, Palazzo Te, Mantua, Italy
Refreshing Art, Art Factory, Catania, Italy
Bologna Arte Fiera, Colossi Contemporary Art, Bologna, Italy

2012

Bergamo Arte Fiera, Colossi Contemporary Art, Bergamo, Italy
ArtVerona, Colossi Contemporary Art, Verona, Italy
Restarts, Eos Factory, Milan, Italy
Roma Contemporary, Eos Factory, Rome, Italy
Accessible Art, Sole24ore, Milan, Italy European Foundation Robert F.
Kennedy, Hangar Bicocca, Milan, Italy
2011
54th Venice Biennale, Italian Pavilion, Venice, Italy
Una Mano per Ail, il right mezzo, Charity Auction at the Pomodoro
Foundation, Christie’s, Milan, Italy
AAM, Sole24Ore, Milan, Italy

2010

Creativeworld, Frankfurt, Germany Visual Writing, Galleria Marelia, Bergamo,
Italy
ArtVerona, FabbricaEos, Verona, Italy M (A) mbiguity, Fabbrica del Vapore,
Milan, Italy
Kilometro 20 + 1, Torrione Farnese, curated by Dany Vescovi,
Castell’Arquato, Italy The MA, Katy House Gallery, Monfalcone, Italy
In-Tortona, Spazio Concept, Milan, Italy
2009
Tokio Flash, Fabbrica del Vapore, Milan, Italy
26 for Tibet, Tsetan Sonam, Milan, Italy
26 for Tibet, Centro Guarinoni, Fortunago, Italy
Streets without walls, Museo della Misericordia, curated by Chiara Canali, Florence, Italy
Attuttotondo, Villa Orsini, Scorzè, Venice, Italy
Incursions, Artifice Cultural Association, Milan, Italy
A Hand for AIL, Palazzo Clerici, Milan, Italy
2008
Collective exhibition, Bagolino, Brescia, Italy

Collections and Museums

Puzzle Public, Bagolino, Brescia, Italy Remembrances of Conte Rosso, Milan, Italy
Dolce Far Nulla, Montesegale, Pavia, Italy
One Wall, Palazzo della Regione, Milan, Italy
Borgio Verezzi in Wonderland, Borgio Verezzi, Italy
Columns of the station San Donato Milanese, San Donato Milanese, Italy
A thousand miles of colors, Mille Miglia Museum, Brescia, Italy
Aldo Galli Fine Art Academy, Como, Italy
Color Cube, Brick Lane, London, United Kingdom
MAR Art Museum of Ravenna, Ravenna, Italy
Maimeri Foundation, Italy
Peruzzo Foundation, Italy
LyfeBulb, United States

Selected publications

2020
“SottoSopra”, exhibition catalog, Peruzzo Editore

2018
“The Essential is Invisible to the Eyes”, exhibition catalog, Peruzzo Editore

2017
“Do Ut Des”, Book of exhibitions, Peruzzo Editore, Essays by Dr. Claudio Strinati, Francesca Gavin
“Breaking Through Lugano”, exhibition catalog, Peruzzo Editore

2016
Breaking Through Milan catalog of the solo exhibition, with the ancestors of Luca Beatrice, Gianni Maimeri, Saturnino Celani
Breaking Through New York, personal exhibition catalog, with preface by Dr. Karin Hehenberger MD PhD

2015
Breaking Through, catalog of the solo exhibition, with the presence of
Baroness Barbara Young and Cedar Lewisohn
16th Cairo Prize, Candidate Catalog

2014
Eccentrico Musivo, Exhibition Catalog, MAR Art Museum of Ravenna

2013
London Street Art, by Frank Steam 156 Malt

2011
Lo Stato dell’Arte, 54th official catalog of the Venice Biennale
HO2, Catalog of the personal exhibition, with a preface by Ivan Quaroni

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