Salah Elmur Sudan, born 1966
Salah Elmur’s work is composed of a fertile visual vocabulary that draws on his social and cultural heritage. He combines observations of life with memories of his childhood and youth to develop the scenes, situations and impressions that inhabit his paintings. Inspired by photographs he has collected from his family’s photography studio, Elmur’s compositions often emulate formal portrait settings with additional elements that complement but also unsettle the mood. Plants and animals share the frame with human subjects; limbs are shortened and proportions are distorted, altering the relationships between various objects and figures in the frame. All these elements combine in a surrealistic swirl of memory, and the resulting paintings are tender, intimate vignettes of human relationships, infused with the rituals and poetics of daily life and folklore.
Elmur studied Graphic Design at the College of Fine and Applied Art, Sudan University. With a career spanning three decades, he has exhibited widely across East Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the USA. Select exhibitions include: Central Electricity and Water Administration, a solo exhibition set across Gallery 1957 and Vigo Gallery, London, 2023; An Anniversary, Gallery 1957, Accra, 2021; Studio Kamal, Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi, 2019; Fragrances of the Forest and Photos, a retrospective of Elmur’s work at the Sharjah Art Museum, 2018; Forests and Spirits, featuring Elmur alongside two luminaries of Sudanese modernism, Kamala Ishaaq and Ibrahim El Salahi, Saatchi Gallery, London, 2018; a group exhibition at the British National Museum, 2004. Elmur’s work is collected widely and is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) in Marrakech, the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF), Zeitz MOCAA, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Weisman Art Museum and the Pompidou Centre, Paris. Elmur has published twelve children’s books and is a successful filmmaker, directing six short documentaries and fantasy films which have been shown at international film festivals.