The BBC as an institution does invest heavily in culture programs, which explore art and artists of most genres. One of those vehicles is the Culture Show. At a particular night, 23rd of July 2013 to be specific, the focus of the program was about art in Africa, a very broad topic, which was put into prospective by focusing on modern art. The chosen artists were of different genre, yet are closely related in their visions. Almost connected telepathically, well most artists are, according to the average person.
Crossing to the promise land...
It was Ramadan of 2013. Amid the summer season, a beautiful sunny day was encouraging to take a short journey to the gallery. The Tate Modern resides on the south bank of the river Thames. The closest tube station was Blackfriars. It is a twenty minutes stroll from the station to the gallery. As the venue was getting closer and closer, the advertising banners started to appear on both side the Millennium Bridge (yet another great piece of architecture, towering above the river and used as a passage from White Chapel to Tate Modern. The banners were carrying the name of a formidable visionary artist who has been and still is on the top of his game. A well known individual within the beautiful world of art, hence eight huge rooms were dedicated to his paintings.
Ibrahim Elsalahi was behind the installations, alignments and arrangement of all his works at the Tate. He was telling a story, which was unfolding gradually as you move from room one right to room eight. Each room was a reflection of a different era of Elsalahi artistic life.
- Sufism – some of his painting included Arabic calligraphy, scripture from Quran and sufi’s sublimations, most notably in portray of his father’s passing away painting.
- Pan African – The route of struggle to achieve independence for the colonial powers and what followed that period from neo-colonialism – He portrayed Lumumba’s funeral in one of his painting and the after mass following his assassination in an aeroplane crash.
Room five of the exhibition compiled Elsalahi collaboration work with other artists, novelists, actors and film-makers from all over the world. Elsalahi was behind the majority of drawing and sketches in Eltayeb Salih novels, most notably Almarioud and Alzain Wedding. The later was adapted into a film and he played the role of the wise man - Elshiekh. The film enjoyed a huge success, it was a Sudanese film which was produced and directed by Kuwaiti film maker Khalid Al-Siddig.
His fellow Tate Modern artist, Gaba, was celebrated by his country by having some of his instalment displayed in main streets of the capital Porto-Nov. While one have to dig very deep to find similar level of recognition for Elsalahi in Sudan!