‘Arab Spring Notebook’ at Galerist

‘Arab Spring Notebook’ at Galerist

‘Arab Spring Notebook’ at Galerist Istanbul’s Galerist is presenting “The Arab Spring Notebook” by Ibrahim El Salahi, one of the most important living African artists and a key figure in the development of African modernism. “The Arab Spring Notebook” is a series of 46 black, ink drawings originally made in a single sketchbook, that comprise El Salahi’s artistic response to the Arab Spring. 

“The Arab Spring Notebook” has been displayed for the very first time at Galerist Studio after El Salahi’s retrospective at the Tate Modern in 2013. 

Living in England and already an elderly man when the Arab Spring unfolded, he observed the events, like most people, through the media. As a Sudanese man, a devout Muslim and a former political prisoner, El Salahi felt a deep and immediate, common cause with the revolutionary and anti-autocratic spirit that spread through the Arab world at that time, saying, “[…] When [The Arab Spring] happened I rejoiced… because it brought down a huge mountain of injustice… [and a] pyramid of authority… Power, as we all know, breeds greed and greed breeds corruption, injustice and prejudice and inequality. And inequality leads to oppression, and revolt.” 

The extraordinary, deep and conflicting emotions and meanings of these events were captured in El Salahi’s ink drawings, with their grotesque and semi-abstracted depictions of various tyrants and their victims, the people. 

In several of the images El Salahi dramatized the sudden moment of reckoning forced upon the various tyrants by the revolts. “This one is about when journalists used to come to our type of country and they kept telling people to look on the bright side, to look at all the development but don’t look at… the jails and the injustice,” the artist said. 

The exhibition at Galerist’s project space Studio will continue until Oct. 3.