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Modern African Art : A Basic Reading List

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Diab, Rashid. La pintura sudanesa: tradicion y contemporaneidad. PhD dissertation, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 1991. 280 leaves. illus., maps, bibliog. [unpublished]. ND1097.6.S73D53 1991 AFA. OCLC 27943320.

The historical and cultural influences on today's Sudanese painters are profound -- Nubia, Kush, Islam, non-Islamic southern Sudan. The environment within which they work and/or grew up shapes their creativity in very conscious ways, even for those who live abroad. Diab introduces his dissertation by painting this multi-faceted cultural backdrop, before turning to a consideration of the academic environment which nurtures modern painters. What, for example, is the impact of Arabic culture and calligraphy as a source of artistic inspiration? The growth and development of the Khartoum School of Art are described along with the work of four individual artists: Omer Kahiry, Hassan Ali Ahmed, Mohammed Omer Khalil and Rashid Diab himself.

Haggar, Lina and Tarneem Saeed. Contemporary artists of the Sudan: art in times of adversity / edited by Victor Röhm; photographer Issam Hafiez. Khartoum, Sudan: Dabanga Art & Crafts, 2015. 141 pp. illus. (color). N7397.6.S73 H34 2015 AFA. OCLC 961267194.

It is refreshing to see Sudanese artists of younger generations, as presented here. We have not been introduced to new artists for quite a while; so this book is a welcome addition to contemporary Sudanese art. The artists born in the 1960s to 1980s have lived in an era of adversity in the Sudan—economic doldrums, stringent Islamic culture & politics, underfunded art training, isolation from international artistic networks, lack of art criticism and a local art market. The idea for this book are two Sudanese women—Lina Haggar and Saeed Tarneem—which is interesting, since there are few women artists in Sudan (or in this book). Thirty artists are featured—five of whom are women. The balance still weighs heavily with the men. We are given short but a very informative essay on each artist, along with a portrait and illustrations of some art works.

Hassan, Salah M. and Achamyeleh Debela. "The Khartoum and Addis connections," pp. 102-139, 315-316. In: Seven stories about modern art in Africa / organized by the Whitechapel Art Gallery; concept and general editor, Clémentine Deliss. Paris; New York: Flammarion, 1995. illus. (pt. color). bibl. refs. (pp. 315-316). N7380.5.S49 1995 AFA. OCLC 33663281.

Contents: "Khartoum connections: the Sudanese story," by Salah M. Hassan (pp. 109-125) which covers the Khartoum School; Ibrahim El Salah, 1930- ; Ahmad Muhammad Shibrain, 1932- ; Hassan Musa, 1951- ; Abdalla Bola; Mohammed Ahmed Abdalla; and Osman Abdalla Waqialla; "Addis connections: the making of the modern Ethiopian art movement," by Salah M. Hassan and Achamyeleh Debela (pp. 126-139), covering the Fine Arts School (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia); Gebre Kristos Desta, 1932-1981; Skunder Boghassian, 1937- ; Zerihun Yetmgeta, 1943- ; Wosene, 1950- ; Girmay Hiwet, 1949- ; Elizabeth Atnafu; and Achamyeleh, Debela, 1949-.

Kennedy, Jean. "Desert light: Sudan," pp. 108-122. In: New currents, ancient rivers: contemporary African artists in a generation of change. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992. illus., bibl. refs. (pp. 190-191). N7391.65.K46 1992X AFA. OCLC 22389510.

The Khartoum school is the heart and soul of the modern art movement in the Sudan. All artists of stature and accomplishment have passed through or are affiliated with the College of Fine and Applied Art in Khartoum. The work of Sudanese artists draws heavily on an Arabic-Islamic heritage and, in particular, on the visual repertoire of Arabic calligraphy. Ahmad Muhammad Shibrain (1932- ) and Ibrahim El Salahi (1930- ) are the pre-eminent practitioners in the calligraphic tradition, although both have created distinctive styles. The abstract sculptures of Amir I.M. Nour (1939- ) capture the forms and contours of the Sudanese landscape.

Other noteworthy Sudanese artists discussed here are Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq, the first modern woman painter in the Sudan, Mohammad Omer Khalil (1936- ), printmakers Musa Khalifa (1941- ), Mohamed Omer Bushara (1946- ), Salih Abdou Mashamoun (1946- ), and the ceramicist Mohammed Ahmed Abdalla.