Author(s): Salah Hassan; Ibrahim El-Salahi
Sudanese artist, writer, critic, cultural diplomat Ibrahim El-Salahi (born 1930) is one of the critical figures of African and Arabic modernism. While serving as Sudan's Undersecretary of Culture in 1975, El-Salahi was imprisoned without trial and endured six months of deprivation in the notorious Cooper (now Kober) Prison. During a period of house arrest that followed, he exorcised his experience in the Prison Notebook, an intensely personal work that is both a major historical document and a masterpiece of drawing, its pages filled with remarkable pen-and-ink drawings that demonstrate the artist's graphic mastery. This bilingual English-Arabic volume, published by The Museum of Modern Art and the Sharjah Art Foundation, comprises a facsimile of the Prison Notebook (recently acquired by MoMA); an English translation of its prose; a contextualizing essay by art historian Salah Hassan that addresses the social and political milieu in which it was produced; and contemporary commentary by the artist, captured in a recent interview.