Hassan Sharif started making art in the 1970s and only in the last few years is receiving long overdue recognition. Sharif was born in 1951 in what is now modern day Dubai. He has been a witness to the transformation of this region from a largely nomadic backwater to a consumerist hub and has documented this through installation, painting, sculpture, drawing and performance, in a career which has spanned 5 decades.
Sharif’s early work often took the form of the execution of a simple action – washing, reading, measuring – and having the process photographed by his friends. In the absence of any artistic or creative infrastructure, Sharif documented and archived his own work, compiling on sheets of cardboard photographs, sketches, and notes.
In the early 80s, Sharif combined his interest in performance and experimental practice with a meticulous study of form, geometry and colour, showing an interest in the power of repetition. This would later translate into his installation works heaping objects in large stacks. These haphazard stacks, are made up of mass produced domestic objects, often imported from China or India.
The curator Catherine David, who first brought international attention to Sharif said of his work: To analyse closely these useless objects brings us closer to a wild archaeology – that is just as much poetic – of life in Dubai and in the UAE at the turn of the 21st century.
In March 2011, Catherine David, in collaboration with Mohammed Kazem, curated a solo exhibition of Sharif’s work in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) and The Flying House, and published a monographic book, Hassan Sharif Works 1973-2011. Sharif's artwork is included in the collections of the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar; the Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, U.A.E.; the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; and the Sittard Center, The Netherlands.