Jamelie Hassan

Jamelie Hassan, artist (b at London, Ont 1 Sept 1948) studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts, Rome, in 1967, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Beyrouth, Lebanon, in 1968, at the UNIVERSITY OF WINDSOR in 1969 and the University of Mustansyria, Baghdad, Iraq, from 1978 to 1979. Jamelie Hassan's art as well as her organizing activities reflect her political awareness and her desire to effect communication between people of different backgrounds. She is deeply aware of the politics of the Middle East and its effects, which extend even to her immediate family, Canadians of Lebanese descent. She has travelled widely in the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and India. The travel nourishes her work and her world view and provides opportunities for organizing exchanges or collaborations among artists of vastly different cultures. Among the projects in which she has taken part are the Havana/London Exchange in 1988, Indian Summer, an exhibition shown in several locations in London and Brantford in 1990, a collaborative bookwork titled Jamelie-Jamila Project with Jamila Ismail in 1992 and Trespassers and Captives in 1999, the latter an examination of colonialism through the collections of the historic Eldon House in London, Ontario, that included an interdisciplinary writing project published as its catalogue.

Jamelie Hassan's work employs any medium appropriate to the subject she wishes to explore. As well, she often introduces traditional media, like watercolour or calligraphy, if they suit her purposes. In Primer for War, 1984 (Collection of the ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO), for example, she made ceramic prayerbook/Bible forms that bear American propaganda texts justifying the entry of that country into World War I. The printed words are juxtaposed with photographs that belie the aggression expressed in the text. Conceivably, the viewer might kneel to read the words, which are hardly prayers. A more recent work, Boutros al Armenian: A Mediterranean Modern, 1997 (Collection of the NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA), combines video footage of the renovation of the Hassan ancestral house in Lebanon with a story about the artist who painted murals in the old house, cobbled together and fictionalized from family history. In the storyline, Hassan seems to occupy the soul of Boutros, the artist. She has him dreaming of making his decorations as great as the tombs of Baalbeq, "a tomb of marble for the world." As a setting for the story, Hassan reconstructs something of the painted murals in the gallery, making an installation that examines the transference of artistic ideas and the blurred lines between cultures and generations.

Jamelie Hassan has had numerous solo and group exhibitions both in Canada and internationally. Significant among them are Inscription at the Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, in 1990 and Aldin's Gift at the Art Gallery of York University and the Windsor Art Gallery in 1996 and 1997. At the Far Edge of Words, a touring exhibition surveying 30 years of her work, was mounted by Museum London in 2009. In 2012, the Art Gallery of Windsor mounted Re-enacting Resistance featuring re-mountings of key installation works from Hassan's career. Her works are included in private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, and the University of Mustansyria, Baghdad. She received the Governor General's Award for Visual Arts in 2001 and in 2012 was awarded the Canada Council's Arts International Artist Residency in Paris.