Nael Hanna was born in Nineveh, Northern Iraq and as a young man he served in the Iran – Iraq war before being awarded a scholarship to study art in Britain. Following on from a foundation course in England Nael completed a degree in Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee. This was followed by a residency at Hospitalfield in Arbroath where Nael fell in love with the Scottish landscape and coastline, and in particular the drama of the changing weather. A string of prizes and awards followed, including one from Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) to travel to and study in Florence. After his return Nael completed an MPhil in Art, also in Dundee, and then went on to lecture in its Fine Art department. Since then Nael has painted full time, exhibiting throughout the UK and collected world wide. His distinctive style of painting is instantly recognisable but pays homage to many of his favourite artists – an ecumenical gathering – Willem de Kooning, Marc Chagall and Joan Eardley.
Nael’s passion for painting is unmistakable. He often prefers to paint outdoors, setting up easel in any weather, the more unpredictable the better! Nael can see and hear the sea from his Angus home and it acts as constant presence in his paintings; his seascapes are a visceral and immediate response to its force and rhythms, with each painting developing an emotional charge and a rhythm of its own. His canvases return time and time again to the Scottish coastline, to the wild open seas of Auchmithie and also to the fishing villages of the East Neuk of Fife.
Equally inspired by flowers, and in particular the poppies he grows in the fields outside his home, Nael’s innovative colour mixing and distinctive brushwork lends itself well to these lively compositions that burst with vibrancy and energy. He always paints flowers from life, relishing the whole process of planting, growing and finally painting them. In each of Nael’s paintings – floral, seascape or abstract – we find a kaleidoscope of colours dancing within his rich, glistening, and almost sculptural surfaces.
Nael’s large abstract paintings are wild and dynamic, a manifestation of all his interests and artistic influences. He paints them when he is particularly moved and without any other goal than to fully immerse himself in the process. This one, ‘Indifferent Summer’ was started in the summer of 2021, in its heat. Bathed in the bright yellows of oilseed rape, the reds of poppies and the blues of the sea, Nael set up the canvas in the field outside his home, and began painting. He describes working outside as almost effortless; you see all the colours, you hear all the sounds, and your body moves with the rhythms of the day, happily working through the long days of summer as the sky changes from blue to pink and the landscape transforms before your eyes, its own life force.