ContiniArtUK is proud to present the first UK solo exhibition of Omar Hassan. The artist, who exhibited at the Italian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, will present a profoundly personal new body of work merging two diverse worlds, street art with fine art.
Omar Hassan was born in 1987 in Milan, Italy, to an Italian mother and an Egyptian father. His best friend, a prolific graffiti artist, encouraged a 15-year-old Omar to join him in experimenting on the walls of his native city. Hassan later witnessed his best friend fall to his death in one of Milan’s underground tunnels.
The tragedy proved a formative event for Hassan. The artist felt compelled to explore various paths, experimenting with a significant talent for boxing and fearless creative risks. However, Hassan was forced to abandon his love of boxing and the lure of competitive sport when a diagnosis of diabetes was discovered – disqualifying him from professional boxing on the grounds of health and safety. Being unable to fully explore this passion, Hassan returned to his other love; investing all his energy into his artistic practice.
As a monument to this important time of his life, the exhibition will include ten paintings produced through the artist’s new boxing-inspired technique; the series is called Breaking Through. The creation of these paintings involved Hassan dipping his boxing gloves into an array of colourful paint pots and punching onto large white canvases, in a very physical display of strength, anger and cathartic energy.
The Breaking Through series is a beautifully pure and raw insight into how the artist channels his energy and portraits his story into a work of art: the street and fine artist, the boxer and the young man living with diabetes.
Also part of the exhibition will be the #Injections series, a direct reference to Hassan’s daily insulin shots. These points of light represent the artist’s positive outlook in bursts of colour on bright canvas.
There is great joy in Omar Hassan’s creations, glorious proof of his determination to “break through” the struggles of life.
The spray-canned ‘dots’ reflect the immediacy of street art culture, where speed, with visual impact, is so important. The colourful canvases are framed in a style that is evocative of 16th and 18th century old masters, Hassan changes the function of the frames by painting over them, creating a perfect fusion that transcends both fine art and street art in the process.
Hassan continually references his formal education at Academy of Arts of Brera. A fine example of this is Hassan’s Venere al Quadro (2011). The piece involves a smaller version of a Venus de Milo statue, covered in his signature spray-painted dots in yellow and orange, displayed just in front of a canvas sprayed with the same colours. The result is an optical illusion, the three-dimensional sculpture vanishing into the canvas.
Omar Hassan will be performing a live Breaking Through painting during the opening of the exhibition on 23rd April. The final result will be auctioned off in support of Diabetes UK, a charity devoted to promoting awareness and caring for those with diabetes. ContiniArtUK will also be making a substantial contribution to the charity at the end of the exhibition.
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Omar Hassan is an Italian-Egyptian artist born in 1987 in Milan, Italy. He graduated from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in in 2010, and after several group and solo exhibitions, he was invited by Vittorio Sgarbi; curator of the Italian Pavilion, to exhibit at the 2011 54th Venice Biennale.
Hassan has since taken part in solo exhibitions in the United States and Japan, alongside his many exhibitions in Italy. Having captured the artist’s attention at a young age, the art of the spray can continues to be the primary instrument in Omar Hassan’s art practice. He has recently developed a new technique for personal expression in the form of his boxing-inspired Breaking Through series. The performance element of the series will have it’s first unveiling at ContiniArtUK’s “Breaking Through” exhibition, Omar Hassan’s first UK solo exhibition.
Among his major exhibitions, Omar Hassan also boasts a long list of “street art” public commissions. These include; One Wall at the Palazzo della Regione in Milan, the Museo Mille Miglia in Brescia, the Accademia delle Belle Arti Aldo Galli in Como and Colour Cube in London’s Brick Lane.
Omar Hassan is featured alongside artists including Banksy, Blek Le Rat, D*Face and Ben Eine in the definitive Street Art London edition by Frank Steam 156 Malt published in 2013.