Hassan Musa ‘Blood is Thicker than Water’ performance at the Mosaic Rooms

On 06/02/20 The Mosaic Rooms hosted a performance by the acclaimed Sudanese-born multidisciplinary artist Hassan Musa titled Blood is Thicker than Water. It was a rare event, as Musa’s last London performance took place in 1995. The performance was followed by Q&A session during which the artist discussed ideas behind his work.

Hassan Musa was born in 1951 in Sudan and is based in France. He is well known for his calligraphic drawings as well as collages and prints (visit the artist’s website to see examples). In his artistic practice he draws inspiration from Arabic calligraphy, Chinese watercolours and Western European painting. Mixing different elements, and sometimes reworking famous paintings from the art historical canon, Musa comments on a range of social and political issues. His works often relate to contemporary events. The title of this performance is derived from a Sudanese proverb ‘Blood is Thicker than Water’ and it references the Sudanese revolution of 2019. In addition to the title, the red and black paint used in the performance symbolise the ongoing fight for justice in Sudan and across the world today.

Hassan Musa Blood is Thicker than Water performance
Hassan Musa ‘Blood is Thicker than Water’ performance at the Mosaic Rooms (06/02/2020, photo Ground Impressions)


The event took place in one of the exhibition rooms currently displaying ‘Homeland Under My Nails’ by another contemporary Sudanese artist Mohammad Omar Khalil. Waiting for the artist to begin the participants spread around the white ‘canvas’ secured with a tape to the floor. Before he took to his brushes, Musa joked that he would try not to cause any damage to us or the artworks on the walls.

Unlike Musa’s smaller calligraphic works, the format of the performance allowed the participants to see the work in progress. He described his performance as ‘making a drawing’. Following the movement of the artist’s oversized brushes was almost hypnotizing. What started as an empty space was soon filled with black lines and strokes spreading away from the small red circle in the centre. The artist compared his practice to dance and physical exercise. Indeed, the physical aspect was key to the artwork unfolding before our eyes.

When discussing his work, the artist acknowledged that every viewer can project different ideas and associations onto the artwork. He admitted that he often changes his own ideas. Seeing his completed works he sometimes finds new things and elements, which subconsciously made their way into the image. The artist came across as a very modest person with warm personality. It was a privilege to witness his artwork in progress.

Hassan Musa Blood is Thicker than Water - detail of work in progress1
Blood is Thicker than Water – detail of work in progress (photo: Ground Impressions)


The performance at the Mosaic Rooms was a part of the events programme associated with the current exhibition ‘Homeland Under My Nails’ by Sudanese artist Mohammad Omar Khalil.



Read more:

The Mosaic Rooms website https://mosaicrooms.org/

See the artist’s website for images of his works http://hassanmusa.com/index.html



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s