My wife Pamela first introduced me to Hassan Nor a few years ago and I have enjoyed his art work and think it's deserving of more exposure and celebration here and elsewhere among people who love painting and drawing and color. Like my father Nor is an immigrant and his gift in the language of visual art is extraordinary, he's an elder Somali man who came here before the war in Somalia and has quietly been making his luminous painted and drawn works for several years in his small apartment on the South side of Minneapolis. The art works are made often using fluorecent poster board which creates a back drop to his marks and images. The visual effect is very haunting and the luminous colored light often coming through the images evokes an otherness in mood and emotion. The images sort of village tableaux depict his remembering his life as a herdsman in a bucolic Somalia of his younger days before all the violence and tragedy which befell this East African beauty spot on the Coast of the Indian Ocean. The color blue has a special deep meaning for his ancestors and all people who live by or near the sea. Water, blue water maybe at the base of Nor's color magic. And his language which is a language of poets more so than ours, a descriptive tradition and of tradition of narratives yes stories always stories which Nor tells us in his pictures of a place of his origin.
A very beautiful selection of his art is on exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for the next nine months. I think this group of works is one of the most intimate and beautiful exhibitions I've seen in my 50 plus years in the arts as a practitioner and professor of fine art. The back story the details are interesting but nothing quite compares to the experience of seeing these works in person. I've included some pictures of Nor's artwork here on this blog as an illustration of the color effects and as enticement for you to visit. I have always felt artists have a responsibility to each other and to the culture to share things that are inspiring and help move us all towards a deeper appreciation of visual art as a great means of communication and pleasure.