By His will we teach the birds to fly no. 4 (Object)



Drawing, pen, ink and wash on paper of a man facing left, his index finger outstreched resembling the beak of a bird. Other birds on the right side of the compostion.

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Height: 38.00 cm



Acquisition names:

Purchased from: Vigo Gallery Funded by: Contemporary and Modern Middle Eastern Art acquisition group (CaMMEA)

Acquisition date:

18 December 2018

Curator's comments:

The inspiration for this drawing, by Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi (born in Omdurman, Sudan 1930), came from seeing his father, a devout Sufi, who, while praying, would point his index finger outwards, creating a shape resembling the beak of a bird. Part of a series created by El-Salahi in 1969, the title alludes to the verse in the Qur’an: ‘Do they not look at the birds, held poised in the midst of [the air and] the sky? Nothing holds them up but [the power of] God. Verily in this are signs for those who believe’ (Surat al-Naml verse 79). The bird motif frequently appears in El-Salahi’s work from the early sixties onwards and represents freedom, justice and himself as an artist. El-Salahi studied art in Khartoum and the Slade School of Fine Art graduating in 1957. He is a member of the Khartoum School, an association of artists which flourished during the 1960s and early 1970s in Sudan. He has also been a politician and diplomat, and Minister of Culture in Sudan (1972–1975). In 1976 he was jailed on political grounds, and it was here, that using scraps of paper from cement bags, that he produced a remarkable work Prison Notebook which was exhibited as part of two major retrospective exhibitions at Sharjah Art Museum (2012) and at Tate (2013) and which has now been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. El-Salahi now lives in Oxford References: Salah M. Hassan (ed.) 'Ibrahim El-Salahi Prison Notebook', (New York and Sharjah 2018); 'Ibrahim El-Salahi A Visionary Modernist' (London 2013); Ibrahim El-Salahi 'In Black and White': By His Will, We Teach Birds How to Fly' (London 2018)