November 7th is First Friday with Farooq Hassan
“Colors are like music … there are many tones. I’m like a composer who writes a piece of music. There is harmony and contrast. When I see an empty space, I put something to cover that emptiness.”
Hassan spent his youth in crowded cafes and on the docks in Iraq, striving to capture on paper the colorful scenes playing out before his eyes. He disciplined himself to not lift his pencil from the paper, but instead to draw a person with a single line.
As a young man, he taught high school. “We did our best to create art, not politics,” Hassan recalls. He also collected stamps, a hobby that eventually led to an unusual and satisfying outcome–he ended up designing more than 75 commemorative postage stamps for the Iraqi postal service.
For 50 years he built his standing as an artist. His work was exhibited in London, Amman, Basrah, and Baghdad. In Iraq, he was considered a national treasure. Then, politics changed his life forever.
Between 1980 and 1991 Hassan moved 22 times, always one step ahead of political strife in Bagdad. After the Iran-Iraq war ended and the first U.S. Gulf war resulted in sanctions, times were hard and dangerous, and yet, it was a time when art began to flourish again. Hassan devoted himself full-time to his paintings.
Life in Iraq was especially perilous for his daughter, Dalia, a reporter for the Washington Post and translator for the American and NATO forces. She took an opportunity to immigrate to the U.S. and encouraged her mother and father to follow her.
In 2010, Hassan and his wife, Haifa, joined their daughter in Portland, Oregon. Hassan was 71 years old and he had lost everything: his reputation as a master artist, the paintings he had created in Iraq, and his home. So, he set about renewing himself through painting.
Hassan is currently represented by galleries in Iraq, Jordan, and in Portland, The Geezer Gallery. This month, Village Frame & Gallery is proud to exhibit the work of Farooq Hassan. Join us Friday, November 7th for our First Friday reception, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. to see Hassan’s work for yourself and meet the artist. In addition, local jewelry artist Susan Koch will be showing a selection of her bead designs.