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Hassan Sharif. Various works. Mixed Media. Dimensions variable. Installation view, Sharjah Art Foundation, Hassan Sharif: I Am The Single Work Artist. 2017. Image courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation


The founding father of contemporary Emirati art, Hassan Sharif, gets his first European retrospective with I Am The Single Work Artist at Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art (ends 3 May). Produced in close collaboration with the Sharjah Art Foundation, an iteration of the show was displayed in Sharjah in 2018 and is set to travel to Malm. Konsthall in Sweden this autumn.

With some 150 works illustrating the eminent artist’s process-driven, Fluxus-inspired work from the 1970s to 2016, the show is characterized by Sharif’s caustic commentary on a rapidly modernising Emirati society. Seminal to his approach was his move in 1979 to Britain, where he developed an interest in constructivism at London’s Byam Shaw School of Art, steering clear of the calligraphic abstraction that seemed to dominate the Middle Eastern artistic vocabulary. Upon his return to the UAE in 1984, he remained active as an artist, author, critic, curator and translator for the rest of his life.

Amit Varadrajan is a staff writer at Canvas, covering news, politics, and culture
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