Self-taught artist Hassan El Shark Egyptian calls upon village life as the main theme in his paintings. He often stocks his works with cats, chickens, palm trees, market stalls, fish, feluccas, moustachioed men, and women carrying large jars on their heads, as well as the ancient Khamsa palm symbol to ward off evil spirits.
Born in the small village of Zawyet Sultan in Minya in 1949, El Shark began painting as a boy using palm tree fibre, his father's wrapping paper, and mixing his own paint using spices from the local herbalist as pigment. German art critic Ursula Schernig discovered his work and arranged two exhibitions, one in Cairo and the other in Europe where all forty paintings were promptly sold. He has since enjoyed the showcase of his work in Egypt and in Kuwait, Palestine, and Lebanon, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Italy, and the Netherlands. Despite his international renown, El Shark prefers to remain in the village of his birth to live the traditional life from which he draws his inspiration.