The exhibition will provide an important opportunity for local audiences to engage with Ibrahim El-Salahi’s art for the first time, whilst also presenting a new understanding to those familiar with it. It will be free of charge and aims to appeal to a general audience, students, art specialists, and members of the Sudanese community in Oxford, attracting new visitors to the museum.
Ibrahim El-Salahi (b.1930 in Omdurman, Sudan) is a pioneer of African and Arabic Modernism and one of the most influential figures in Sudanese art today. His paintings and works on paper draw from a vivid imagination rooted in the Islamic traditions of his homeland, which he fuses with a profound knowledge of European art history, African abstraction and inventive forms of calligraphy. El-Salahi’s art has been exhibited worldwide and is represented in international collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Victoria, Sydney; British Museum, London and Tate Gallery, London. However, this exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum will be the first solo exhibition of El-Salahi’s works in Oxford, where the artist has lived since 1998. It will cast fresh light on his works by setting them into dialogue with select ancient Sudanese objects from the Ashmolean’s collection, chosen together with the artist. The exhibition places a particular emphasis on Ibrahim El-Salahi’s Tree series, which represents the artist’s interest in the abstracted motif of the tree, using it metaphorically as a link between heaven and earth, creator and created.