Hassan Sharif, 1951 – 2016

The 'father' of Emerati contemporary art has died

Hassan Sharif has died at the age of 65. Photo: Satish Kumar, The National

The Emirati artist Hassan Sharif has died at the age of 65, The National reports. Remembered as the ‘father of [Dubai’s] contemporary art scene’, Sharif began his career in the early 1970s by drawing caricatures which commented on the social landscape at the time and were published in local newspapers. Studying art in London, Sharif was one of the first Emiratis to pursue an arts education abroad; upon returning to Dubai, he was one of the founding members of the Emirates Fine Arts Society, staged the first contemporary art exhibitions in the country, and in 1984 founded Al Marijah Art Atelier in Sharjah where he held informal sessions as a teacher and mentor to aspiring artists – of whom Mohamed Kazem was his first protégé. His one-day exhibition in 1985 at the Sharjah central market is considered a seminal moment not only in his career but also in terms of bringing conceptual performance art to the country. His Dubai representative, Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde, released a statement: ‘He (Sharif) didn’t put stock in conventions of age, identity or the need for comfort. Only art and the restless making of art grasped his attention. He was a prolific cultural producer and facilitator, moving between roles as artist, educator, critic, activist, and mentor.’

19 September 2016