In the past few years, Róza El-Hassan has carried out thorough research into archaic methods and forms of Syrian architecture. She opened a new chapter in her committed human rights activism and social criticism by connecting in her artistic vision the thousands of years of tradition of the ecologically based authentic Arab folk architecture with proposing a viable and sustainable solution for mitigating the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Syria and for rebuilding major cities razed to the ground. The drawings, sketches, sculptures and installations showcased in this exhibition present to the Hungarian public the main directions of El-Hassan’s many years of research and related artistic practice for the first time.
El-Hassan’s last solo exhibition at the Inda Gallery was in 2013. For many years now, she has been present at key international events and venues of contemporary art as a participant of solo and group exhibitions, conferences and workshops.
Since the late 1990s, Róza El–Hassan’s artistic practice has been closely concerned with the historical, social and geopolitical cataclysms that have determined the relationship of the individual and oppressive power structures, generated war conflicts and humanitarian catastrophes, and hopelessly destroyed and people’s basic living conditions on a massive scale. The ethnic cleansing in the Yugoslav war, the global geopolitical consequences of the overpopulation paradigm, the hope of a nonviolent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the rampage of religious violence and of the irrational logic of oppressive systems acting in the spirit of religious fundamentalism, the possibilities of a democratic evolution of the society and the limits of European modernism – these are the global scale issues in Islamic societies whose personal aspects and direct effects on the individual provide the broader context of El-Hassan’s works. The sensitive, empathic and compassionate artistic-activist position that became her creative strategy has constantly been present in her work, sometimes openly, sometimes less directly and more symbolically.
The positive expectations and hopes that arose in the wake of the social changes brought about by the Arab Spring soon dissolved in almost every country involved, and the ensuing political changes led to violence and civil war in many of them. This destructive violence seems unstoppable, bringing immeasurable suffering, with millions of refugees trying to survive in inhuman conditions, causing an acute migration crisis that poses a daunting moral challenge for the European societies as well.
Can the artist remain unaffected by these formidable humanitarian catastrophes? The answer is clearly ‘no’. In Róza El-Hassan’s case this is also a fundamental identity issue: to find the relevant artistic position, the theme, form of expression and aesthetics that most authentically represent the autonomous artists involvement and commitment. This exhibition presents a proposal: rising above religious prejudices, the egocentrism of welfare societies and ethnic discrimination, a social solidarity rooted in an ecological view can become the common ground for an attitude and conduct that can bring peace and social calm in the present chaotic war situation.
Barnabás Bencsik, curator