Art Term

Khartoum School

The Khartoum School was a modernist art movement formed in Sudan in 1960 that sought to develop a new visual vocabulary to reflect the distinctive identity of the newly independent nation

Ibrahim El-Salahi
Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams I (1961–5)

The Khartoum School was formed by the painters Ahmed Shibrain, Kamala Ishag and Ibrahim El-Salahi.

As one of the most active contributors to the growth of modern art in Africa, the group was typified by its use of primitive and Islamic imagery. One of its distinctive characteristics was the use of calligraphic writing, in which the artists would simplify Arabic script into abstract shapes. This aesthetic, called hurufiyya, together with Islamic motifs, became a hallmark of the Khartoum School.

The group disbanded in 1975 after Ishag broke away to found the Crystalist Group and El-Salahi was accused of anti-government activities and imprisoned, later going into self-imposed exile in the UK.

  • Modernism

    Modernism refers to a global movement in society and culture that from the early decades of the twentieth century sought a new alignment with the experience and values of modern industrial life. Building on late nineteenth-century precedents, artists around the world used new imagery, materials and techniques to create artworks that they felt better reflected the realities and hopes of modern societies.

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  • Stories from El-Salahi's garden

    Hassan Musa

    The Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi (born 1930) is a significant figure in African and Arab modernism, whose work reflects a rich cross-pollination of art, ideas, culture and tradition. To coincide with his first exhibition in the UK, Tate Etc. asked a fellow Sudanese artist to pay homage

  • Who is Ibrahim El-Salahi?

    Get to know one of the leading modernist figure artists

Selected artists in the collection

Selected artworks in the collection

Khartoum school at tate