1-54 COURTYARD COMMISSION: Ibrahim El-Salahi – Meditation Tree
Presented by Vigo Gallery and supported by the Kamel Lazaar Foundation.
El-Salahi’s Meditation Tree, the first sculpture by the legendary modernist, fulfils his long-held ambition to render his drawn images in three dimensions and to play with their scale. Inspired by the characteristics of a peculiar type of acacia tree called Haraz, indigenous to Sudan, which grows beside the banks of the Nile and displays unique and inspirational characteristics, the Tree series is an on-going investigation of the tree / body metaphor, a link between heaven and earth, creator and created. It can also be seen as a self-portrait and metaphor for artistic identity and personal growth.
They say that Haraz tree fought against the rain. Because during the rainy season and the flooding of the Nile, it is completely dry, with dry leaves, nothing at all… then during the drought it comes out with blooms and with fruit and everything. This is the definitive statement. Like saying, ‘I am me! I am an individual! I do not follow what everyone is doing!… When everyone is going to be green let them be green, I am not. – Ibrahim El-Salahi, A Visionary Modernist, Edited by Salah M. Hassan, Museum of African Art, 2012 / Tate Modern 2013.
El-Salahi grew up in Omdurman, Sudan and studied at the Slade School in London. On his return to Sudan in 1957, he established a new visual vocabulary, which arose from his own pioneering integration of Sudanese, Islamic, African, Arab and Western artistic traditions. In 2013 Ibrahim El-Salahi became the first artist of African Birth to be given a retrospective at Tate Modern.