IBRAHIM EL-SALAHI (B.1930)
WORKS SOLD FOR THE MOWAA RAINFOREST GALLERY AND THE NIGERIA PAVILION AT THE VENICE BIENNALE 2024
IBRAHIM EL-SALAHI (B. 1930)

Pain Relief

Details
IBRAHIM EL-SALAHI (B. 1930)
Pain Relief
signed 'Salahi' (lower right)
silkscreen on linen
91 ¾ x 92 ½in. (233 x 235cm.)
Executed in 2019
Provenance
Donated by the artist to MOWAA, courtesy of Vigo Gallery, London.
Sale room notice
Please note that this work is signed 'Salahi' (lower right)

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Anna Touzin
Anna Touzin Specialist, Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

‘I often incorporate images from suffering past and present, personal or general, but these works are not, for the most part, literal. It’s about the act of drawing offering respite, not drawings about pain.’

– IBRAHIM EL-SALAHI

Christie’s and the Museum of West African Art (MOWAA) in Nigeria are collaborating to raise funds for MOWAA and its initiatives to create a cultural ecosystem in Benin City, based on the art of the past, present and future. A number of artists have generously agreed to donate original works of art to the auction, including Yinka Shonibare, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Lakwena Maciver and Victor Ehikhamenor. Proceeds from the sale of the works will go towards MOWAA initiatives including the presentation of the Nigeria Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, 2024—commissioned by the Governor of Edo State and also curated by Aindrea Emelife—and the 20-acre Creative Campus, including the Rainforest Gallery. Designed by the Dakar-based architecture firm Worofila, the Rainforest Gallery will be dedicated to showcasing Modern and Contemporary art, as well as historic exhibitions.

The ‘Godfather of African Modernism,’ Ibrahim El Salahi finds temporary respite from his sciatica and chronic back pain when lost in drawing. Since 2016 he has created an extraordinary body of work from the comfort of an armchair. His ongoing Pain Relief series started with around 200 tiny drawings in pen and ink on the back of his discarded medicine packets, small scraps of paper, or envelopes which were to hand and easy to work on. Some of these drawings formed the seeds for a group of larger-scale canvases - directly transferred unique large scale screen-prints in an attempt to be able to communicate the imagery on a more dramatic engaging scale. Canvases from this body of work are now in the collection of several museums including the Ashmolean and the Smithsonian Institute.

One of the leading figures of African modernism, El-Salahi is internationally celebrated. Solo exhibitions of the Pain Relief Drawings were shown at the Drawing Centre in New York and Tegnerforbundet in Norway in 2022 and Kunsthalle Zurich in 2023. The artist was selected to participate with 99 Pain Relief Drawings in the 2022 59th Venice Biennale, and the Pain Relief canvases were recently the subject of a solo exhibition at Hastings Contemporary. He has also held major retrospectives at Tate Modern, London (2013) and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (2018), and the Sharjah Art Foundation (2012). His works are held in collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, Sydney; MOMA New York, The Sharjah Art Foundation, Tate Modern, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Art Institute of Chicago.

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