Ibrahim El- Salahi : A Visionary Modernist
London’s Tate Modern has taken the art world by surprise with a refreshingly global outlook in their latest set of exhibitions. After Lahd Gallery’s initiative in promoting artists from that part of the world in ‘Rediscovering Sudan‘ back in 2011, El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist is the Tate’s first ever retrospective dedicated to a contemporary African artist. El-Salahi is known as the father of African modernism and his work had been conspicuously absent from UK galleries since his major show at the ICA way back in 1963. Having studied in Khartoum and at the Slade School of Art, and later in life being exiled from Sudan to Oxford, El-Salahi’s work is a fascinating document of an artist’s life that spans many cultures in an epic fashion.
At the opening night on the 2nd of July, It was a joy to experience El-Salahi’s work as our favourite from the opening was’ One Day I Happened to See a Ruler’ This artwork is especially striking for the way it portrays a sense of stillness and dignity, and we found out that this was precisely the artist’s intention. On a visit to Oman, El-Salahi attended a traditional ceremony. He was struck by the way that the participants, Sultan Qaboos and his family, could sit completely still without even blinking. El-Salahi explored the theme of the ceremony further by veiling the sitters’ faces in reference to the stark contrast between public and private personae.
Meschac Gaba: Museum of Contemporary African Art
Our visit to Tate Modern’s latest opening also gave us the chance to check out Meshac Gaba’s anti-museum. Subverting the Western tradition of taking ritual artefacts from other cultures and locking them in display cases to be peered at, Gaba’s grand-scale installation fuses the institution concepts that are artefact museum and hyper-contemporary gallery. Most importantly, Museum of Contemporary African Art showcases contemporary artists from the continent, who have traditionally been ignored in major galleries in favour of museum displays of historical artefacts. Most exciting and ground-breaking is the Art and Religion Room, which even includes an in-house tarot reader.
Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist & Meschac Gaba: Museum of Contemporary African Art are at the Tate Modern until 22 September.
Check out North African artists and buy MENASA art at the Lahd Gallery E-Gallery.
H.H. Dr Nauf Albendar with the artist Ibrahim El-Salahi
One Day I Happened to See a Ruler – Ibrahim El-Salahi
The in-house tarot read at the Museum of Contemporary African Art