Fathi Hassan was born was born in Cairo in 1957 to Sudanese and Egyptian parents. He won a grant to study set design at the Naples Art School in Italy. Since graduating in 1984, he has lived in Le Marche, Italy.
In his drawings, paintings, sculptures and installations, Hassan experiments with the written and spoken word, exploring the theme of ancient languages erased by colonial domination. With invented, Kufic-inspired scripts, he plays with the symbols, textures and calligraphy of his Nubian heritage to explore the space between graphic symbolism and literal meaning in vibrant colours and collage.
Over the past 30 years he has participated in numerous solo and group shows in Italy (including the 1988 Venice Biennale), Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, and New York. Recent solo exhibitions include "Fathi Hassan: Migration of Signs", Williams College Museum of Art, WIlliamstown, USA (2014-15); "The depth of Hope", VCUQatar Gallery, Doha (2014); "Faces&Voices", John Rylands Library, Manchester (2012); "Fathi Hassan", Leighton House Museum (2010); "Nigger", Palazzo del Duca, Senigallia (2010); "Tasaheel", Centro d'Arte L'idioma, Ascoli Piceno (2010); "Kenuz", Domus Artis, Naples (2009); the Dakar Biennial (2008); a solo show at the Museo Nazionale Villa Pisani, Venice (2008); the group shows "Asemic: Henri Michaux, Maliheh Afnan, Fathi Hassan, Lutz Becker", Cultuurcentrum Brugge, Belgium (2014); "Re-Orientations II", Rose Issa Projects, London (2012); "Arabicity" at the Bluecoat Arts Centre, Liverpool, and Beirut Exhibition Center, Lebanon (2010); "Text Messages" at the October Gallery, London (2006); and an installation at The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC (2002).
His work is in the permanent collection of the British Museum, London, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC and the Farjam Foundation, Dubai, UAE.
He is the subject of the publications Fathi Hassan edited by Rose Issa (Beyond Art Production, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-9559515-6-5); Fathi Hassan by Achille Bonito Oliva and Luigi Meneghelli (Charta, 2000. ISBN-10: 8881582848; ISBN-13: 978-8881582846) and Fathi Hassan edited by Enrico Crispolti (Edizioni Della Rovere, 2002). He also features in the publications Arabicity (Rose Issa Projects and Beyond Art Production in collaboration with Beirut Exhibition Center, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-9559515-5-8); Egyptian Artists written and published by Books LLC (2010; ISBN-10: 1157093922; ISBN-13: 978-1157093923); Sudanese Artists written and published by Books LLC (2010; ISBN-10: 1158490410; ISBN-13: 978-1158490417); Modern Egyptian Art 1910-2003 by Liliane Karnouk (American University in Cairo Press; 2005. ISBN-10: 9774248597; ISBN-13: 978-9774248597) and Contemporary Egyptian Art by Liliane Karnouk (American University in Cairo Press; 1995. ISBN-10: 9774243242; ISBN-13: 978-9774243240).