23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Hassan Zahreddine

Hassan Zahreddine was born in Lebanon in 1969. He studied painting in Beirut, then emigrated to Canada in 2021, where he studied printmaking in Montréal.

»Zin« [2022] is Hassan Zahreddine’s first book to be published in German, for which he wrote the text himself. It tells the story of a boy named Zineddine who grows up in Beirut with his siblings. The family has little to eat; the children do not attend school, and yet they have no time to play because they have to go to work. Zineddine is taken to a print shop by his father and begins to do simple work there. At this point, he can neither read nor write. Since the printer finds his name too long, he selects three letters from the type case, joins them together to form a block, and the sheet that then comes out of the press reads »Zin«. Zin’s passion for printing is thus awakened. Without yet understanding what exactly he is typesetting, he knows the place of each letter in the typesetting box and gradually learns the alphabet. His daily tasks include replenishing the ink, getting the rollers ready, and layering the printed sheets on the packing table. Walking home one evening after his work is done, Zin notices policemen on the street. A man jumps out, tears open his bag and throws printed sheets into the air. Upon closer inspection, Zin realizes that he printed these leaflets himself. He takes one of them home and tries to decipher it in the candlelight. After this experience, he realizes the power that rests in words and sentences. The story Hassan Zahreddine tells is that of his father. He actually had to work from the age of nine and later became a typesetter. The book’s illustrations are unusually monochrome for a children’s book, with gray-black-brown tones dominating. These, however, create a special atmosphere that corresponds with the content of the book, the description of a child’s experience growing up under difficult conditions. Zahreddine transferred his extremely poetic illustrations onto copper plates using the elaborate mezzotint technique.

Hassan Zahreddine has received many awards for his illustrations in the Arab world.

Date: 2022