Born in Omdurman in 1930, Salahi attended the Gordon Memorial College’s School of Design in Khartoum; by the time he graduated, he had mastered both perspective techniques and figure drawing, and had learned a great deal about the history of art in the Western world. Following the completion of his degree, he moved to London, in order to study at the Slade School of Fine Art. It was here that he became familiar with Western modernism. At the age of 27, Salahi decided to return to Khartoum, in order to work as a teacher at his old art school.
In 1975, he became a political prisoner, and was incarcerated in Sudan for one year; whilst this was a devastating experience, Salahi has said that he learned a great deal from it. Shortly after his release, he left his homeland, and after a brief period in Qatar, ended up moving to the UK, where he has remained ever since.
Now in his eighties, he has continued to paint and exhibit his work. Art enthusiasts like Tunde Folawiyo might remember that his most notable exhibition in recent years was held at the Tate Modern; entitled ‘Ibrahim Salahi: A Visionary Modernist’, it was the first ever retrospective of an African Artist in this gallery. Exploring the idea of African Modernism, the display featured 100 of Salahi’s pieces, most of which were created during the last five decades. The exhibition offered visitors insight into his artistic evolution, showing them how he developed a style which so masterfully combines Western, Arab, African and Islamic art techniques.
Throughout his career, Salahi has had his work included in a number of major exhibitions, and many of his paintings are now on display in several public spaces, including the National Gallery of Victoria, Hampton University Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of African Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. Salahi has also been the recipient of honours such as the 2001 Prince Clause Award and the 1964 Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship.
Folawiyo has been a collector of art for some time now. Information about Tunde Folawiyo’s interest in art is available online.