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Omar Hassan Selected Press


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Real Clobber Magazine

Omar Hassan is an ex-boxer turned Street Artist from Milan, Italy. Encouraged by his best friend to get involved in the underground ‘graffiti’ culture of Milan at the age of 15, Hassan witnessed the death of another friend on the scene in one of Milan’s underground tunnels. The death led Hassan look to other avenues for his kicks so took to Boxing but the fact he suffered from Diabetes meant he couldn’t really pursue a realistic career in the sport. It was at this moment that he started to take the art world serious and his latest exhibition in London titled ‘Breaking through’ pays homage to this important changeover in his life. The creation of the paintings involves Hassan dipping his boxing gloves into an array of colourful paints and then punching the canvas in a display of strength and marking a crossover from the boxing world to the arts world. The exhibition will also see the #injection series which takes inspiration from the artists daily injection of insulin and the event just so happens to be sponsored by Diabetes UK so its all for a good cause. Hassan’s main tool is the trusty spray can as can be seen in the video and he has taken part in solo exhibitions from Japan to the US to Europe. The video above is some of his previous artwork he has done in Brick Lane, London. We will be interviewing Omar shortly about the event so keep posted. The Breaking Through by Omar Hassan will take place @ContiniArtUK Gallery in London from 24th April – 10th June 2015.


Real Clobber Magazine

Omar Hassan is an ex-boxer turned Street Artist from Milan, Italy. Encouraged by his best friend to get involved in the underground ‘graffiti’ culture of Milan at the age of 15, Hassan witnessed the death of another friend on the scene in one of Milan’s underground tunnels. The death led Hassan look to other avenues for his kicks so took to Boxing but the fact he suffered from Diabetes meant he couldn’t really pursue a realistic career in the sport. It was at this moment that he started to take the art world serious and his latest exhibition in London titled ‘Breaking through’ pays homage to this important changeover in his life. The creation of the paintings involves Hassan dipping his boxing gloves into an array of colourful paints and then punching the canvas in a display of strength and marking a crossover from the boxing world to the arts world. The exhibition will also see the #injection series which takes inspiration from the artists daily injection of insulin and the event just so happens to be sponsored by Diabetes UK so its all for a good cause. Hassan’s main tool is the trusty spray can as can be seen in the video and he has taken part in solo exhibitions from Japan to the US to Europe. The video above is some of his previous artwork he has done in Brick Lane, London. We will be interviewing Omar shortly about the event so keep posted. The Breaking Through by Omar Hassan will take place @ContiniArtUK Gallery in London from 24th April – 10th June 2015.


3) Whats your favourite art piece you have done so far? My artwork that I currently like the most is currently on public display in Milan, in my local district; Lambrate. It is 250 square meters of dots. 4) Where does your real inspiration come from in your art? In many ways I feel like citizen of the world and therefore take inspiration from the experiences I have and the people I encounter. Everything that surrounds us can become the object of an artistic investigation if observed with a sensible eye. 5) Describe the Graffiti scene in Milan when you got into it and what really drew you to it? The truth is I have never been a follower of the Graffiti art scene in Milan. I approached street art because one of my best friends used to paint on walls while I used to draw in a more conventional way. One day he gave me a spray can and urged me to try. Unfortunately, he has now passed away, he had a terrible accident while painting the walls of the Milan metro. Since that moment I decided to dedicate my entire life to the arts in any form this would manifest. 6) Apart from art what other things are you interested in? In addition to the arts, I love music, reading, and recently I have started writing a novel and a romance, I hope to be able to complete it, as writing is a great challenge. 7) What else can we expect from Omar Hassan for 2015? More research, innovation and overall an increased number of followers 8) Who are your favourite street artists and why? I think Banksy for his wit, for example I found his series of interventions in major museums absolutely brilliant. I am also a fan of Vhils as he really creates an incredible dialogue with the walls of the cities. 9) What can we expect from the ‘Breaking Through’ exhibition in London? Certainly something different, something new; I want to get known not only as an artist but as a human being, I believe that art conveys a positive message for the sake of all. In this case I would like to demonstrate that the diabetes disease like any other difficult health condition can help to grow and develop the persona. 10) Any advise to aspiring street artists out there? It is difficult to give suggestions, as each case is different. Anyhow, I believe every artist should always defend his/her own work, for defending I mean campaigning for it, accounting for it, promoting it to a wide audience! One needs to believe in his/her own path/research always!


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 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 risk however he was forced to hide that fact that he suffered from diabetes. Hassan was forced to abandon his love of the boxing and the lure of competitive sport when this diagnosis was discovered and returned his focus to 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 a large white canvas, 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 universal struggle. The spray-canned ‘dots’ reflect the immediacy of street art culture, where speed, with visual impact, is so important. His colourful canvases are framed in a style that is evocative of 16th and 18th century old masters, Hassan changing the function of the frames by painting over them, transcending both fine art and street art in perfect fusion. 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 spraypainted 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. The post-exhibition celebrations and auction will be hosted at Frescobaldi Ristorante London, who are generously supporting the cause of DiabetesUK and who will work with ContiniArtUK on this special evening.


Street artist and former boxer Omar Hassan's first UK art exhibit is set to open April 23rd at the ContiniArtUK gallery in Mayfair. During the opening show Hassan will create a new painting live which will then be auctioned off in support of Diabetes UK – a condition the artist himself struggles with.


Some of the paintings were created by Hassan dipping his boxing gloves in paint and punching the canvas in "a very physical display of strength, anger and cathartic energy."


Yes, those are caps. The exhibition will be open to the public from 24th April until 10th June 2015.


Omar Hassan Paints by Punching Away His Pain Omar Hassan was 15 when he made his first foray into art—tagging the walls of his native Milan with graffiti. He has since come in from the street to the studio, where he approaches his paintings and sculptures as he once did urban surfaces. This spring, Contini Art UK presents a selection of his recent works in “Omar Hassan: Breaking Through.”


“Breaking Through,” his first solo showing in the UK, is titled after the series of paintings on view. These explosive, abstract, large-scale compositions stem from his life experiences and reflect a mixture of tragedy and determination. When he was still a teen, Hassan lost his best friend in an accident during one of their graffiti outings. He took up boxing as a constructive outlet for his pain, and discovered his love for the sport. An early diagnosis of diabetes cut short his pursuit of boxing, causing him to seek a new path—this time, in art.

The “Breaking Through” works were not painted in the traditional sense. Rather, they were boxed into being. To make them, Hassan dons boxing gloves—a paint-splattered pair of which is also included in the exhibition—and goes head-to-head with the canvas. By dipping his gloves into various brightly colored pigments and punching them onto the canvas, he creates compositions full of bursting, overlapping circular forms. These appear to hover against the blank grounds, like gathering storm clouds that emit rivulets of paint, which collect at the bottom of each composition.


The “Breaking Through” works were not painted in the traditional sense. Rather, they were boxed into being. To make them, Hassan dons boxing gloves—a paint-splattered pair of which is also included in the exhibition—and goes head-to-head with the canvas. By dipping his gloves into various brightly colored pigments and punching them onto the canvas, he creates compositions full of bursting, overlapping circular forms. These appear to hover against the blank grounds, like gathering storm clouds that emit rivulets of paint, which collect at the bottom of each composition.


Recently artist Omar Hassan flew into London for the grand opening of his first UK solo exhibition at ContiniArtUK in Mayfair.

Hassan, a former international boxer and now successful contemporary artist performed a remarkable live installation piece at the private view, which was attended by VIP guests including Steven Berkoff, Camilla Rutherford & Alistair Guy to name a few.


Hassan, who exhibited at the Italian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, unveiled Breaking Through, the new body of work merging two diverse world s, street art with fine art. The 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.

The auction and after-party celebrations took place at Ristorante Frescobaldi, where guests enjoyed bruschetta with burrata and asparagus, aubergine and goats cheese, veal cheek, quinoa salad, gnocchi with wild mushroom, tuna tartare with orange, tiramisui and fruit tart accompanied by Prosecco, Pomino Biano and Frescobaldi’s bestselling Nipozzano.

Omar Hassan ‘Breaking Through’ runs 24th April – 10th June 2015 ContiniArtUK (105 New Bond Street, London W1D 1DN) Ristorante Frescobaldi (15 New Burlington Place, London, W1S 2HX)


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LONDON.- ContiniArtUK presents the first UK solo exhibition of Omar Hassan. The artist, who exhibited at the Italian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, presents 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 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 risk however he was forced to hide that fact that he suffered from diabetes. Hassan was forced to abandon his love of the boxing and the lure of competitive sport when this diagnosis was discovered and returned his focus to 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 a large white canvas, 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.


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Also part of the exhibition are 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 universal struggle. The spray-canned ‘dots’ reflect the immediacy of street art culture, where speed, with visual impact, is so important. His colourful canvases are framed in a style that is evocative of 16th and 18th century old masters, Hassan changing the function of the frames by painting over them, transcending both fine art and street art in perfect fusion. 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 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.


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FAD headed down to ContiniArtUK in Mayfair to see Artist Omar Hassan first UK solo exhibition Breaking Through. Breaking Through is the artist’s new boxinginspired technique which involves Hassan dipping his boxing gloves into an array of colourful paint pots and punching onto a large white canvas. Hassan performed the new technique live for a special piece that was auctioned off in support of Diabetes UK, a charity devoted to promoting awareness and caring for those with diabetes. You can see Omar’s exhibition Breaking Through at ContiniArtUK 105 New Bond Street London W1S 1DN on until 10th June 2015 www.continiartuk.com About The Artist 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. 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.


Omar Hassan is a young Italian artist who’s fusing graffiti with fine art. At an early age due to one of his friend’s influence he started to experiment with graffiti. The body of work on display at the Contini gallery contains bold colours, drips, caps displayed in large quantities; a sure sign of someone having been painting on the streets. This is all fused with fine art elements like a classic status drenched in paint.

The artist was also diagnosed with diabetes which led to him having had to abandon his passion of boxing on the grounds of health and safety. As a result he developed a painting style where he is dipping his boxing gloves into paint and punching into large canvases. These series of 10 canvases are titled ‘Breaking Through’ and are a direct result of him having to abandon his love of boxing and now channeling all his energies into art.

Hassan was painting a canvas inspired by his boxing technique on the opening night which will be auctioned off in support of Diabetes UK. The gallery will also make a significant contribution to the cause at the end of the exhibit.

The exhibition runs until the 10th of June at 105 New Bond Street, London, W1S 1DN – nearest tube: Bond Street.


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Breaking Through: Omar Hassan From Apr 24, Mon-Sat 10.30am-6.30pm, Sun 12noon-5pm, ends Jun 10 Contini Art UK, London

Omar Hassan was born 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. After the tragic death of his friend, the artist felt compelled to explore various paths, experimenting with a significant talent for boxing and fearless creative risk. However, Hassan had to hide the fact that he suffered from diabetes and was later forced to abandon his love of boxing. As a monument to this important time of his life, the exhibition includes 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 struggle of life. The spray-canned 'dots' reflect the immediacy of street art culture, where speed, with visual impact, is so important. His 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. continiartuk.com


OMAR HASSAN. Two from one. The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes.(Oscar Wilde)


In an artist's consciousness, different experiences are always piling up and blending together, impulses and antithetical needs oppose one another, conflicting memories and histories accumulate. Rarely is an expressive form born already completed, like an immobile construction, a clean, clear archetype that the artist lavishly translates into images or objects. More frequently, a style, a method or an attitude are the products of inner conflict, a forced synthesis, a difficult reconciliation. Bruno Munari said that "Art is a never-ending search, an assimilation of past experiences combined with new experiences, in the form, the content, the material, the technique, the means." In other words, something similar to an alchemical experience, which for the follower did not take the form of a journey through material and its chemical changes so much as a descent into the depths of the psyche. In Latin, the sentence E pluribus unum accurately defines the path accompanying the disciple from initial chaos to final synthesis. From the many to one. Something similar distinguishes the background of Omar Hassan, the young artist who made formal synthesis his distinctive mark. The artist attended two schools: the Academy of Fine Arts and the street. And, in fact, the composition of dual impulses is the recurring theme in his artistic research. Born to an Italian mother and Egyptian father in Milan in 1987, Omar Hassan grew up in a familiar atmosphere in which the Catholic and Muslim cultures were in peaceful dialogue.


His upbringing was therefore the product of a hybridization, or rather of an integration of two radically different traditions, at least in terms of artistic representation: while Catholic art is highly figurative and tied to religious folk imagery, Islamic art is profoundly aniconic and centers on evolutions in calligraphy. Upon closer inspection, both influences come together in Omar Hassan's stylistic genome, in a sort of perfect syncretism between Eastern and Western heritage. But let us proceed in order. As I have mentioned, with regards to Omar Hassan's paideia, his street experience played a fundamental role: frequenting the young Milanese street art scene where an artist must find his own original expressive form in an attempt to set himself apart in the jungle of styles and schools that characterize street art. For a street artist, originality is everything.

The brand, the signature or tag and the method make the difference. Indeed, we could say that without his own originality, an artist cannot earn the respect of other writers. For a young artist like Omar Hassan, it would have been easier to fit in, choosing to dedicate himself to defining a tag, making his way through a hyperbolic variety of urban writing styles, or finding a way to dialogue with the pictorial styles of mural artists, who have returned to the canons of figurative representation. I have not ruled out the possibility that he may have attempted one of the two paths at the beginning, but at a certain point something in his blood came to the fore, like an unstoppable genetic impulse. Omar Hassan cleaned his slate of all conventional street art and went back to the starting point of street painting, recovering the gesture from which it draws its origin: a round, spray-painted dot, a burst of color spurting out from can of spray paint. This is the first syntagma of a writer's grammar, the first letter of the acrylic alphabet of a wall scribbler, nothing more than a round, dripping spot, vaguely similar to Niki De Saint Phalle's shooting paintings. For the nouveau realiste it was the effect of a rifle shot, but for Omar it is the result of paint sprayed from a can. First one shot, then many shots. And thus, from one single letter a language was formed, articulated in purely chromatic extensions from a single form, like a binary code, simple and basic, but also terribly effective.


Omar Hassan's sprayed paint is more than what appears to be at first glance, because in a single gesture it sums up the history of street art as an action, as a performance act, as action painting: physical, energetic, muscular, all within the elusive speed of the moment. Yet at the same time it gives new relevance to the meaning of so much of 20th-century avant-garde artistic research, which attempted a return to the pure, original forms of figurative art. I also sense in Omar Hassan's gesture a way of asserting the dignity of Islamic art, which draws its origins from the aniconic metality of nomadic desert tribes, the first to receive the message of the Prophet. In fact, it is not by chance that in previous works the artist pieced together a dialogue between abstract and calligraphic forms. Writing and letters are the ground on which both the Islamic arts and the tags of street art have evolved. With his sprayed signs, Omar Hassan symbolically bridges the gap between his biographical experience as a street artist and his father's cultural tradition. In thus doing, he also envisions a possible meeting ground between two different ways of conceiving of art: the Western and the Middle Eastern. But this is only the first form of synthesis. Another form involves healing the intimate disagreement that exists between the free forms of street art (and contemporary art in general) and those codified by classical art, which are (or ought to be) the foundation of an academic education. As we have said, Hassan received his painting diploma at the Academy of Brera, where he was able to mature a certain knowledge of art history. This led him to consider that there might be another working domain beyond the city walls and gardens where he could test the ability of his gesture, that of fine arts, which demand a redefinition of work times, methods and intentions as compared to urban art. On the street, it is the projects' graphic impact, speed, quantity and location that count; but in painting on canvas, other factors play an important role: the gesture's effectiveness and necessity, its stylistic ability, a reflection on themes of formal order and, not lastly, the dialogue with art history and its evolution.


Hence, Omar Hassan's problem becomes similar to that of other artists who, like him, have extended their field of action to the artistic system, as they call it. Examples in Italy might be Ericailcane, Ozmo, Bros, Pao, Dem, 108, Microbo and many others. This is not just a move to different supports, a trivial shift from wall to canvas, but a change in environment, an overturning of cultural and even behavioral reference norms. Art is an insidious terrain beset with difficulties, bearing the weight of centuries of history. Yes, it is true that even street art has a history, but it is a recent one (the fact that some scholars date it to the latrinalia in Pompeii or even cave paintings is a real stretch of the imagination!). Omar Hassan converses with art history in the same way in which he faced the history of writing: he went back to its origins. And to him, the origin is classical art, academic art par excellence. It was not enough for him to spray his canvases with thousands of colors, including in his gestural frenzy the frames and even the surrounding walls. And it was not enough for him to give his own work instruments (cans of spray paint) the leading roles in works of a more than documentary value. Omar Hassan carried forward his original syntagma to anything he came across, even a flush toilet, a sort of allusion to Duchamp's famous urinal. But it was when he began to observe classical forms that his dialogue with art became more urgent. The casts of the Venus de Milo and the Nike of Samothrace immediately bring us back to the pretentious and somewhat dusty atmosphere of a cast gallery, to those exemplary models typical of academic instruction, so far from the painting methods of Omar Hassan.


By facing those eternal forms, the artist has committed an act of humility and examination, almost as if he wished to test the validity of his mark on the temporal horizon of art history. Hassan's works on classical casts cannot be interpreted as extemporaneous, or even belated gestures of irreverence toward antique art. Rather, they are gestures of appropriation, and at the same time they give life to classical language. Without a doubt, sooner or later even urban art will rise to the importance of classical art. But in the meantime, at least for Hassan, this dialogue means a reordering of the creative impulses in a more adult dimension, which requires him to measure his language against the golden language of tradition. In the end, it is a comparison to which many artists subjected themselves, even in more recent history; one needs only think of Man Ray's Venus Restored, of Pistoletto's Venus of the Rags, of Return to Order in Picasso, to De Chirico, to DalĂŹ and countless other 20thcentury masters . This "correspondence of loving meanings" between the ancient and the modern worlds made up for a lack of comparison with nature itself and with an idea of beauty that seems quite out of date to us today. Johann Joachim Wincklemann wrote that "the difference between the Greeks and us" - and here he clearly alluded to the people of the 18th century - "is this: the Greeks succeeded in creating these images, even if they were not inspired by beautiful bodies, by means of the constant opportunity they had to observe the beauty in nature, which does not, however, show itself to us every day and rarely does it show itself as the artist would wish." Imagine, now, how distant the concept of beauty in nature is from the mind of a street artist who has grown up in the middle of the jumbled metropolitan topography of a neighborhood like Lambrate, and how difficult it could be to assimilate an esthetic idea that finds no correspondence in his everyday life, and you will understand the extent of the risks that Omar Hassan agreed to take on. Accustomed to drawing symbols on walls, the artist has not only brought those same gestures to the canvas, those joyous marks made up of a multitude of colors: he has even transferred to them the most sacred icons of Western art, thus leading him to complete a further synthesis: that between the prosaic dimension of contemporary art and the auratic art of the golden age.


And, in passing, we must remember that classical sculpture was polychrome and not monochrome, as it was left to us by Canova. Thus, Hassan is simply giving the dimension of color back to classical art. Beside the winged Victories, the mutilated Venuses, given new life by a fragrant blossoming of synthetic color, Hassan provides us with a dissonant series of objects trouvĂŠs, of dump pickings, like the aforementioned toilet or a fridge filled with used cans of spray paint. This is one of the more jarring combinations, but it reveals the artist's intrinsic esthetic dichotomy. In Omar Hassan, the Dadaist practice of salvaging objects, by now a classic in contemporary culture, is pushed to the extreme. And thus, his very work instruments become a work of art. Lined up and sealed in clear plastic cases, the empty cans of spray paint therefore become concrete and objective proof of a practice, while at the same time taking on an artistic value, a bit like the photographs that document performance art. An example of this are the works from the series Borgio Verezzi in Wonderland, which gathered together cans of spray paint used during the execution of a mural created by the Ligurian town of the same name. In this case, a single action gives rise to two different artistic expressions: the first, painting and performance, the second involving the ready made procedure. And here we have another synthesis, which this time brings together the age-old dichotomy between pictorial and conceptual practices.


And further proof of this attitude is the fact that not only does the can of spray paint take on the value of a work of art, as in the above mentioned series: it even becomes the subject of a bronze sculpture, thus bringing to completion that process of absorbing classical art begun with spraypainting the plaster casts. This is a work that encapsulates the substance of this exchange between classical and modern art, because in it, the can of spray paint (equipped with five caps in the primary colors, black and white, almost as if to indicate the entire range of color) and the very act of spraying paint ascend to the monumental and hyperuranian importance of ancient art. It is, in essence, a sort of altar to writers, an idol offered up to the future memory of posterity. In the art of Omar Hassan, everything seems to respond to this need for bridging the gap, this desire to join together influences, origins and the discordant elements of his life story.


In analyzing a work, we never insist enough on biological elements, perhaps due to a kind of respectful reserve, but in the case of Hassan it is only right to say that the means and the method, beyond the spray can and spray-paint metaphor, have a precise meaning. They are instruments that serve to calculate the frequency of a daily gesture, like taking medicine, on his studio wall. Thus Omar Hassan's single sprayed mark is born, like an enumeration of vital importance, while waiting for the act to transform itself into automatism. Within that sprayed mark there is the very meaning of life, the sound of breath and the color of our days. And lastly, there is the desire to permeate every gesture and every object with this breath of energy. The same energy that the philosopher Henri Bergon called ĂŠlan vital.


SPECIAL PROJECTS Palazzo Regione Lombardia, Milan, Italy


Rimembranze di Conte Rosso, Milan, Italy


Fine Art Academy, Como, Italy


Mille Miglia di Colore, Brescia, Italia


Borgio Verezzi in Wonderland, Milan, Italy


Brick Lane, Liverpool Street, London


Il Dolce far Nulla, Montesegale, Italy

Omar Hassan - Selected Press  

Selected press for artist Omar Hassan - ContiniArtUK Gallery, London.

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