Printed in black on rectangular vellum, three figures are surrounded by Maghreb architecture. We can see two happy women; one holds a child in her lap, and the second laughs as she plays a tambourine. The architecture in the background appears to be a wall, the top of which is decorated with geometric patterns. Together with the similarly decorated doors on the sides, the wall creates a framework for this figurative scene. There is a tree on the wall in line with the faces of women, emphasizing the serenity of the scene. The venue appears to be a small urban garden – a courtyard of sorts, the doors of which are slightly open to the outside world. The body contours and the curved lines of the architecture mimic the rhythm that the percussionist mimes.
Fatima Hassan El Farrouj was born in Tétouan in 1945. In 1965, she took part in an exhibition of the Salon des Artistes Indépendants in Casablanca. As an autodidact, she taught herself embroidery and other textile manipulations, which soon included graphic design, painting, and sculptural work. A strong graphic style is evident throughout her body of works, including her polychromatic and large-format paintings. The oeuvre of a self-taught artist is best described as a narration of the world as experienced. It is this narrative of imagery, often from everyday life in Rabat, which Fatima Hassan bases her art on. The fine, precise movements of her graphic style are like whimsical poetry for the eyes.
In 2011, Fatima Hassan died as a recognized and honored artist. Anyone who is familiar with the works of the Iwalewahaus collection, and in particular the prints, will notice a similarity between the formal aspects of Parcours to other works in the collection; Hassan’s iconography is reminiscent of works from the Nigerian Oshogbo School, as well as the graphics by other self-taught Papua New Guinean artists.
The presentation of the portfolio which contains Parcours illustrates the chasm between the folkloric subject matter of the image itself and the processes by which art marketed. The trained artisan is as celebrated as the “Masters” in the global art market. We can allow ourselves to view the rigor of these processes as a nod to the greatness of the work.