Born in 1951 in El Nuhud, Sudan and currently working in Domessargues, France; Hassan Musa is one of the Sudanese pioneers in contemporary art and zoomorphic calligraphy. Musa’s artworks are known to adapt, mix and combine diverse styles from contrasting parts of the world: his stylistic inspirations are rooted from European painting, Arabic calligraphy and Chinese watercolor. Musa’s paintings gather printed textiles which are utilized as canvas. Its theme habitually appropriates classical Western artworks to approach and challenge well-known figures such as Osama bin Laden, Che Guevara, Vincent van Gogh or Josephine Baker. One of the most well-known statements of the artist is “Images are like blows: we receive them, we give them back. We transmit violent things because that is the way we receive them. It's a way to survive, my images are my line of defense”. Musa here elaborates on how he uses his interpretation on western politics, culture and art to revive images present in the world through giving it back to the people.
Musa earned a master's degree from the College of Fine and Applied Art at the Sudan University of Science and Technology, Khartoum, in 1976 and a doctorate in Fine Art and Art History from the University of Montpellier, France, in 1979.
Musa's large works are often executed using textile ink on printed textile, creatively blending the designs of the fabric with his own paintings. In his art, which he does not consider as 'African', Musa often appropriates classical Western masterpieces, such as The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet or Olympia by Édouard Manet. Confronting and mixing these classical images with later personalities such as Vincent van Gogh, Josephine Baker, Che Guevara or Osama bin Laden, Musa creates a critical view on Western art, politics and culture.
Alongside gallery exhibitions, Musa's works have been shown at:
- 1977 FESTAC, Lagos, Nigeria
- 1985 Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary
- 1993 Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
- 1993 Musée bibliothèque Pierre André Benoit, Alès, France
- 1995 Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK
- 1996 Malmö Konsthall, Malmö, Sweden
- 1997 Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy
- 1998 Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, New York
- 2003 Arab World Institute, Paris, France
- 2004 Museum for African Art, New York City, USA
- 2004 Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, USA
- 2004 Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Germany
- 2005 Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
- 2005 Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
- 2006 Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, USA
- 2006 Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
- 2006 The Hayward, London, UK
- 2007 Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
- 2008 Musée d'Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium
- 2008 Hood Museum of Art, New Hampshire, USA
- 2009 San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, USA
- 2011 Triennial of Contemporary Textile Arts of Tournai, Belgium
- 2011 Palace Museum of Ath, Belgium
- 2014 Gallery of African Art, London, UK
- 2014 Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt/Main
- "Biography". Hassan Musa Official. Retrieved 2021-10-31.
- "Musa". hassanmusa.com. Retrieved 2021-10-31.
- "Hassan Musa". Art for humanity. Durban University of technology. Archived from the original on August 10, 2011. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- Touya, Lucie; Koudedji, Thierry William (March 11, 2005). "Je pars d'un principe très simple : les gens sont intelligents !" (in French). Africultures. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- Hassan, Salah; Oguibe, Olu; Allen, Siemon (2001). Authentic, ex-centric: conceptualism in contemporary African art. Forum for African Arts.
The critical appropriation of classical Western masterpieces is an ongoing theme in the art of Hassan Musa
- Hassan, Salah; Giorgis, Elsab (Spring–Summer 2001). "Hassan Musa". Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
- Gillemon, Daniele (March 19, 2008). "Hassan Musa brouille les pistes". Le Soir (in French). Retrieved December 23, 2010.
- Lorent, Claude (March 12, 2008). "Se défaire des clichés". La libre Belgique (in French). Retrieved December 23, 2010.
- Faucon-Dumont, Eliane (July 18, 2009). "Arts à la Pointe. Hassan Musa, un artiste engagé". Le Télégramme de Brest (in French). Retrieved December 23, 2010.
- Busca, Joelle. "L'histoire de l'art revisitée : Hassan Musa". Artexclu (in French). Retrieved December 23, 2010.
- Crenn, Julie (November 22, 2010). "Icône de la constellation Noire : Joséphine Baker" (in French). Africultures. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- Touya, Lucie; Koudedji, Thierry William (November 6, 2008). "Entretien avec le peintre soudanais Hassan Musa" (in French). Les Indigènes de la république. Archived from the original on November 27, 2010. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- Burnet, Eliane (2004). "L'africain de service, des zoos humains aux biennales d'art contemporain". Ethiopiques (in French). Retrieved December 23, 2010.
- Touya, Lucie; Koudedji, Thierry William (August 2005). "Images sacrées, images politiques" (in French). Africultures. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- Humbert, Jean-Louis (March 2008). "Hassan Musa, Une urgence africaine". Exporevue (in French). Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- Grewe, Cordula (2006). Die Schau des Fremden: Ausstellungskonzepte zwischen Kunst, Kommerz und Wissenschaft. Franz Steiner Verlag. p. 39. ISBN 978-3-515-08843-5.
- Njami, Simon; Durán, Lucy; Museum Kunst Palast (Düsseldorf, Germany); Johannesburg Art Gallery, eds. (2007). Africa remix: contemporary art of a continent. Johannesburg, South Africa: Jacana Media. p. 98. ISBN 978-1-77009-363-8.
- "Hassan Musa: the artist's stamp". Special Collections, SOAS Library. 23 January 2019. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
- "Hassan Musa Calligraphe" (in French). Sudplanète. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- "Africa remix". Centre Pompidou (in French). Retrieved December 23, 2010.
- "Hassan Musa". Emirates Airline Festival of literature 2011. Archived from the original on January 18, 2011. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- "Sudan Past and Present: From the Islamic Period to the Modern World". British Museum.
- Enwezor, Okwui; Okeke-Agulu, Chika (2009). Contemporary African art since 1980. Damiani. ISBN 978-88-6208-092-7.
- Artist's official website
- Hassan Musa at Grove Art Online
- Hassan Musa at the Sudan Artists Gallery
- Hassan Musa, Performance and Persona, 1992-2007, in Artists and Art Education in Africa, Elsbeth Court et al, eds., Sajid Rizvi, Series ed. Saffron Books African Art and Society Series, ISSN 1740-3111
- Sudan's Hassan Musa on how he shares art on envelopes
- The Hassan Musa Mail Art collection, comprising 70 items of mail art, lino prints and correspondence is held by SOAS Special Collections. Digitised images from the collection are available to view online here.