The towering presence in "African Perspectives," though, is Sudanese artist Ibrahim al-Salahi (b. 1930), at London's Vigo gallery. The artist's dreamy-but-lucid pen on canvas works have an otherworldly suggestiveness, sometimes hinting at personal stories, sometimes evoking mystic symbols, primeval artifacts, or alien machines.
El-Salahi is a major figure in his home country, and one who has recently gathered greater and greater recognition for his unique synthesis of calligraphy, automatic drawing, and more. Recently, a show at the Tate Modern used him to inaugurate a series on "African Modernisms." The work here is more than worth seeing; it the kind of work—rooted in a deep history but offering a fresh way of looking—that makes this whole circus feel worth something.