IBRAHIM EL-SALAHI (B. 1930)
IBRAHIM EL-SALAHI (B. 1930)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
IBRAHIM EL-SALAHI (B. 1930)

The Tree

Details
IBRAHIM EL-SALAHI (B. 1930)
The Tree
signed and dated 'Salahi 03' (lower centre)
ink on Bristol board
40 1/8 x 30in. (102 x 76.1cm.)
Executed in 2003
Provenance
Vigo Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2014.
Exhibited
Sharjah, Sharjah Art Museum, Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist, 2012-2013. This exhibition later travelled to Doha, Katara Arts Center and London, Tate Modern. London.
Vigo Gallery, Ibrahim El-Salahi: The Tree, 2014.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Ibrahim El-Salahi was born in Omdurman, Sudan in 1930. He is one of the most important living African artists and a central figure in the development of African Modernism. El-Salahi studied at The Slade School of Fine Art in London during the 1950s before returning to Sudan to teach in Khartoum, where he sparked a movement known as the Khartoum School. Influenced by his time in London, he developed an aesthetic and visual vocabulary born out of the calligraphic tradition of Sudan and fused with Modernist principles. This aesthetic, known as hurufiyya, along with Islamic motifs, became the hallmark of the Khartoum School.
El-Salahi later worked for the Sudanese Government, establishing the first ever Department of Culture. While serving as Sudan’s undersecretary for culture he found himself imprisoned without trial. The hardship he endured there has informed much of his later work.
An abstract geometric composition in ink on board, The Tree is part of a series referencing the Haraz tree. This has become a very important motif for El-Salahi with its own unique mythology. Native to Sudan and contrary to the world's other flora, the Haraz tree drops its leaves during the rainy season and keeps them during the dry season where it comes out with blooms and fruit. It's roots can grow eighty metres deep in search of moisture. For El-Salahi this is the definitive statement of individualism, and much of his later work is preoccupied with the exploration of the profound symbolism surrounding the Haraz tree. The Tree, with its spare, symmetrical and linear structure, sees El-Salahi venturing towards pure abstraction. It is a supremely elegant vision which both echoes and departs from the figurative forms which formed the body of his major retrospective in 2013.
Ibrahim El-Salahi lives and works in Oxford, England. He was the first artist born in Africa to be the subject of a Tate retrospective with Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist (2013). His work is held in the permanent collections of MoMA, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Smithsonian, Washington, D.C; Tate, London; The British Museum, London; and The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. El-Salahi’s current exhibition The Milk of Dreams is currently on view in the Arsenale at the 59th Venice Biennale.

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