Hasan Hourani

Hasan (Hassan) Hourani (حسن حوراني, 1974-2003) was a Palestinian artist, born in Hebron. He attended the College of Fine Art in Baghdad, Iraq from 1993-97. In 2001 he arrived in New York and presented his one-man show "One Day, One Night" in the UN building. He then studied at the Art Student's League of New York and continued to live in the city for several years. His work has been exhibited in Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, South Korea, New York and Houston.

In 2003, he returned home for a visit. Like nearly all West Bank Palestinians, he had been barred from traveling across the Green Line to see the sea for many years; but during this trip home, he was able to visit the Mediterranean shore. On August 6, 2003 he went swimming with his young nephew Samer Abu Ajamieh, and both drowned near the Port of Jaffa.

His friend Dorit Rabinyan, an Israeli novelist, wrote of him: "This sea is different from the sea I left and different from the one I recollected in New York. Your death has conquered it since then and now dominates the entire expanse before my eyes. It has finally turned you into Hassan who is Everywhere.

Hassan Everywhere

At the time of his death, Hourani had completed only 10 of the 40 drawings that make up his whimsical children's book, Hassan Everywhere, in which the character Rihan roams the world in search of the rose of love. That year, his drawings were exhibited at Al-Hoash's grand opening in Jerusalem, and the next year Al-Qattan, a Palestinian cultural foundation, established the Hassan Hourani Young Artist of the Year Award. In 2004 the Qattan Foundationcompiled his completed stories and half-rendered drawings, and published Hassan Everywhere.

Hassan's friends are the birds, bees, fishes in the sea and fearful beasts, as he journeys alone but makes his home everywhere. The Paltel Virtual Gallery of Birzeit University writes that Hassan embodies the local as well as the world traveller, from ancient Egypt to the rooftops of New York: "Hassan rides the waves, is fed by the birds, flies on his magic bicycle, sits on the rooftops, always looking on to see the panorama of the world. Finally, the freedom of flight and travel of Hassan in 'Hassan Everywhere' carries particular resonance in the context of the confinement of Palestinians for whom such freedom is a dream.


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