" It has taken me two whole weeks to find the way to talk about this beautifully touching exhibition… The reason being that it features the work of an artist who was unknown to me at the time I visited the exhibition, yet his work felt very familiar to me. It has been that sense of “understanding” that has kept me thinking about it, away from the computer, on the look for an answer.
I do strongly feel that art can rarely be rationalized. There are techniques to talk about but what, to me, makes art “art” is the feelings that it can steer in ones heart or even in ones gut. It is something more primitive, more emotional than the obvious assessment of technique. My painting teacher once told me that anyone could learn how to paint and how to draw, but just a few knew how to make art.
A few nights ago I watched a wonderful program on BBC’s culture show titled: “Who are they calling an African Artist”. It featured the work of El-Salahi’s work alongside another artists who is also exhibiting at Tate Modern : Meschac Gaba. The program is worth watching for many reasons, but to me it was specially worth watching because it helped me understand the familiarity that my heart had found on El-Salahi’s work during my visit.
I found out, for example, that the beautiful Sudanese tree he repeatedly paints, is used as a symbol of resilience (the same that the Gernika tree represents to the people in the Basque Country). His painting The Inevitable came from his need to respond to the Sudanese civil war (like Picasso’s Gernika was a response to the bombing of the Basque heart…) you can see the pain and the attempt to highlight the ultimate goal of the human right…
Essentially, I found that the rawness expressed in his work reflects moments that could also be traced back within my cultural background with such an intensity that it was easy for me to understand on my first visit. But more importantly, I am convinced that the same would apply to any cultural background, as his work goes beyond aesthetics to a deeper, more anthropological, primitive level where we can all have an opportunity to connect. "
(From atelier EURA's scrapbook on ScoopIT , here, commenting on the Tate Gallery's Artist Page )