African Colours featuring Islam Kamil

Bicycle Decoration and Everyday Aesthetics in Northern Nigeria

Bicycle Decoration and Everyday Aesthetics in Northern Nigeria

Currently working on my conclusion (yes, still its harder than youd imagine, suddenly you have to be really really precise and think of how your main arguments best come together) and revisiting all those arguments about how Islam prevented the development of meaningful artistic traditions in northern Nigeria. So, African Colours portrait of a practicing Muslim painter from Sudan, Islam Kamil, is actually quite timely for me. A welcome reminder how little of contemporary art practices (or the alleged lack thereof) in northern Nigeria can actually be explained by reference to religious discourses. Yes, Sudan (see an early post on an interview with Ahmed Elmardi in 1992) is not Nigeria. Nor is it Senegal or Egypt or . And the artist is currently based in Doha, Qatar, anyway. But. Thats exactly the point. Isnt it? That it's all this little bit more complicated.

Anyway, my academic preoccupation aside, enjoy the beautiful painting at African Colours, on the artist’s website here and here, at Art Wanted, Art Majeur (slide show here) as well as African Art Now (at least the latter being a commercial site).


Bicycle Decoration and Everyday Aesthetics in Northern Nigeria

Bicycle Decoration and Everyday Aesthetics in Northern Nigeria


In terms of background about the artist his profile at the Sudan Artists Gallery tells us that he was born in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1971. He studied Applied Arts from the College of Fine and Applied Art, Sudan University of Science and Technology, Khartoum. He graduated in 1995 obtaining a first class honours in design. According to his official website, he lives and works in Qatar since 1996.

African Colour’s profile of the artist quotes his website saying that he is

‘[i]nspired by the paintings of the opposition of the stories and legends and heritage Sudanese diverse civilizations and cultures, all formed characters and decorations and colors of his paintings, where you find a sense of African and Arab sometimes, other times, often mixing them in his paintings, you'll sink in beautiful colors’

He is further quoted saying

‘Occasionally, my painting appear to me like narratives or dialogues between [an] unknown population and myself, or that they emerge from a remote unknown age, or else, they are borrowed from an accumulation of a country, rich of its history, heritage and culture, or, after all they represent (Tokens) painting in signs.’

Find a list of the exhibitions and workshops in which he participated on his website (in English as well as in Arabic) as well as his profile page on the Sudanese Visual Group on Ning.

On Ning’s Sudanese Visual Group’s page you will also find more images, not only of works by Islam Kamil as well as some video clips. Here’s what seems to be the first in a series of two or three. I don’t (yet?) speak Arabic so I cannot quite tell … But if you do, check it out. If not, just enjoy the paintings in the background as I did.


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