In the exhibition Canova between innocence and sin are exhibited some photographs of the series Ferite by Mustafa Sabbagh, in which we see the plaster casts of Canova mutilated by the bombing of the First World War. The Italian-Jordanian artist Mustafa Sabbagh has been selected among the Traffic Gallery artists during ArtVerona 2021 as part of the #Level0 Award. Mart Museum curator Denis Isaia explains why: “The ability of Mustafa Sabbagh’s work to stitch together the languages of the contemporary world with the experience of antiquity illuminates the continuities between centuries and consolidates the tendency of the most current research to leave behind the paradigm of linguistic invention in search of a more vital emotional tension”.
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Mustafa Sabbagh was born in 1961 in Amman (Jordan). Italo-palestinian, raised between Europe and Middle East, his imprinting is cosmopolitan, while his attitude is nomadic. Former assistant of Richard Avedon, and teacher at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, after a successful career as a fashion photographer recognized by the most prestigious magazines of the world, starting from 2012 Sabbagh focuses his research towards contemporary art through the mediums of photography and video-art by a kind of aesthetic counter-canon in which punctum is the skin – diary of individual’s uniqueness. Harmony of imperfection, psychological investigation and anthropological enquiry through image construction are the stylistic features moved by Sabbagh from slicks, to the areas of the most important galleries and museums of the world – such as the Musée de l’Elysée, in Lausanne, internationally considered as a temple of photography.
Often protagonist of interviews and documentaries inquiring into his visions, in 2013 Sky Arte HD, through the series Photographers, elected him as one of the 8 most significant artists of the contemporary italian scene. To date, Mustafa Sabbagh has even been recognized, by an art and photography historian the likes of Peter Weiermair, as one of the 100 most influential photographers in the world, and one of the 40 most important nude portraitists – the only one from Italy, on an international basis.
His artworks are included in numerous internationally accredited publications (including Faces – the 70 most beautiful photography portraits of all time, curated by Peter Weiermair), in many sold-out monographs (such as About Skin, edited by Damiani and acquired by the permanent book collection of Tate Gallery, in London) and in several permanent private and public collections, both in Italy and abroad – including the historical Farnesina Art Collection, the ArteFiera Foundation, the acquisition of a whole project by the permanent contemporary art collection of MAXXI – National Museum of XXI Century Arts (Rome), and the acquisition of an artwork commissioned by Casa Museo Boschi – De Stefano in partnership with the Foundation Ferrara Arte.
Following his first retrospective “XI Commandment: You shall not forget”, the Mayor Leoluca Orlando, “in expressing deep admiration for his art and his gaze toward the same extreme point of the horizon”, conferred on him the honorary citizenship of the City of Palermo. Also in 2016, Nèon theatre company is inspired by his opera omnia for the realization of the stage play “Invasions – dedicated to Mustafa Sabbagh”, awarded by Icon – Panorama magazine as one of the ten best 2016 theatre acts.