WHEN 88-YEAR-OLD Ibrahim El-Salahi is drawing he gets lost in work and has temporary respite from his sciatica and chronic back pain.
The ‘Godfather of African Modernism’ says it’s the only time he has relief from the pain.
For the last two years the Sudanese Oxford-based artist has created an extraordinary body of work from the comfort of an armchair, refusing to let physical restriction limit his ambition. During this period, he has made around 180 tiny, but incredible, drawings in pen and ink created on the back of medicine packets and envelopes after consuming their contents.
MASTER AT WORK: Ibrahim El-Salahi admires some of his art ahead of his exhibition
El-Salahi says: “I am surrounded by packets of medicine so I said, ‘What a waste – why don’t I use them?’, and I started opening them and chopping them to size and working on them. I had a number of pens with waterproof and fade proof ink, which the material of those kind of packages takes very nicely. It reminds me of the time when I found paper in prison, and did sort of little images as the nucleus. So I pray and bring peace and calm in my mind that I use as imagery, which can be transmitted to other people when they see my work.”
A selection of these drawings, along with the first mono-print paintings, will be displayed in a new exhibition at Saatchi Gallery this week.
Ibrahim El-Salah: Pain Relief is at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, Kings Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 4RY until July 18. Admission is free.