Salah Hassan co-curates African modernist artist Kamala Ibrahim Ishag’s exhibition at the Serpentine, London

Serpentine, London - October 7, 2022 to January 29, 2023

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag has forged a unique and expansive practice that is not defined by a singular style or movement. Her work embraces and expresses different earthly and spiritual landscapes and histories of Sudanese visual culture across many eras. Both a master modernist and innovative contemporary painter, Ishag continues to influence artists internationally and has been a prominent teacher and mentor to generations of practitioners, especially in her role as a professor of painting for over 30 years in Sudan. She was amongst the first women artists to graduate from the College of Fine and Applied Art in Khartoum in 1963. Later, she became the leading figure of the conceptual Crystalist Group in Sudan during the 1970s and 1980s.

The exhibition celebrates the breadth and importance of Ishag’s work and offers London audiences insights into her world, featuring works spanning from the 1960s to today, including her time in London studying at the Royal College of Art (RCA) from 1964-66, in addition to new paintings created in her Khartoum studio that have previously never been presented. 

Ishag shared, “It is very special for me to have this exhibition at Serpentine as I studied close to Hyde Park at the Royal College of Art in the 1960s and I have spent time living in London. I have completed new paintings for this exhibition which will be shown alongside works from across my career. These are all connected by images of humans and plants – the vital elements that constitute all life.”

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag is organized by Sharjah Art Foundation and Serpentine, in collaboration with The Africa Institute, Sharjah. It is co-curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director, Sharjah Art Foundation; Salah M. Hassan, Director, The Africa Institute, Sharjah, and Professor at Cornell University; and Melissa Blanchflower, Curator Exhibitions and Public Art, Serpentine, with Sarah Hamed, Assistant Curator, Serpentine.

The artist’s first monograph will be published on the occasion of the exhibition and will be available in early 2023.


Image: Kamala Ibrahim Ishag, Blues for the Martyrs, 2022 (detail). Oil on canvas, 203 x 300 cm. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Mohamed Noureldin Abdallah Ahmed. © Kamala Ibrahim Ishag.

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Painting, blue background, circles with circles inside, plant shapes over all