Gallery of African Art (GAFRA), London, United Kingdom 21 Nov 2013 - 21 Dec 2013
The Gallery of African Art (GAFRA) presents Contemporary Calligraphy, a solo exhibition of works by Hassan Musa, curated by art historian and lecturer Elsbeth Court.
Hassan Musa’s engagement with calligraphy can be traced back to his teen years working on his school’s mural newspaper in western Sudan. Now domiciled in France, his style a synthesis of African, occidental and oriental traditions distinguish his oeuvre as truly original. The selection of calligraphy works on show reveals Musa’s range of picture making that includes animals and landscapes, as well as cultural and political icons.
Musa’s calligraphic drawings are complimented by his textile paintings – large mixed media works in which the designs of the fabric are blended with Musa’s own brushwork. The appropriation of classical imagery from western art, which is an ongoing theme in Musa’s practice, is particularly visible in this genre. Biblical themes popularised in Renaissance paintings are recreated in Musa’s own vein. In The Good Game III, Musa references the celebrated mural by Delacroix of Jacob wrestling with the Angel. In the biblical narrative, Jacob sustained a broken hip after his night duel with an angel. In Musa’s textile version, a footballer is locked in battle with the nameless celestial being. A version of this work was produced for the FIFA 2010 World Cup. The Good Game III is one of several handmade textiles featured.
Contemporary Calligraphy also includes a rarely seen selection of Hassan Musa’s mail art spanning some twenty years. These small, paper works are painted, pasted and printed on the envelopes which contained his correspondence by regular mail to friends and colleagues. This ephemeral genre indicates Musa’s concern, indeed his philosophy, to take his art beyond the confines of the gallery into the public arena, and along the way to enchant the eye of the postman as well as his recipients. By definition, mail art is mobile and outreaching, what is nowadays termed ‘relational art’.
Hassan Musa was born in El Nuhud, western Sudan. He graduated from the Khartoum Technological Institute with a BA in Fine Arts. He holds a doctorate in the History of Art from Montpellier University and a secondary art teaching credential. Musa has pursued the practice of art in his studio, in workshops, in illustrated books, in academic discourse and in electronic media. Musa’s work can be found in many permanent collections including the Hood Museum of Art, Hanover (US), Museum der Weltkulturen, Frankfurt (Germany) and Matthias and Gervanne Leridon collection (France). He has exhibited around the world, including the Pascal Polar Gallery, Belgium; Mori Art Museum, Japan; Centre Georges Pompidou, France; Fine Art Academy, Hungary, Museum for African Art, US and the Biennale de la Calligraphie, United Arab Emirates. His work is also included in many private collections. Hassan Musa lives and works in Nîmes, France.