Ibrahim el-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist


Ibrahim el-Salahi, a Sudanese artist, is the subject of this retrospective at the Tate Modern. The exhibition begins with his most recent work, sprawling black and white drawings that depict flamenco dancers moving across tiled floors. From here the exhibition moves backwards through deconstructed calligraphies and minimalist forests before ending with a return of the dancers, this time painted.

Somewhere in the middle there are examples work from his time in London and the United States. These pieces contain only hints of his usual style, as if to say: "Yes, I can do this as well". It's a bit like being at a progressive rock concert where the musicians decide to throw in a some baroque chamber music just because they can. No matter how well they do it, it's a bit weird.

There are some stunningly imaginative paintings here, mostly from the mid sixties. The Last Sound (1964),Vision of the Tomb (1965), and Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams I (1961-5) all possess an otherworldly beauty and an immaculate use of space and depth. This is the first exhibition at the Tate Modern dedicated to an African modernist, hopefully it's not the last.

Ibrahim el-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist is at the Tate Modern until the 22nd of September, 2013

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