Basharat Bashir

Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq

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Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq is a Sudanese painter and art teacher,andone of the leading influential artists and pioneering modernist painters in Sudan. She cofounded The Crystalist conceptual art group in Khartoum to establish a new approach and thought-process in response to previously dominated ideology represented by male oriented Khartoum School of painting. This group also rejected the common conventions in Sudanese modern painting of the 1960s and strived to find “an aesthetic and critical language that would emphasise the notions of pleasure and knowledge in order to permanently abolish differences and boundaries”. Ishaq has had an influential career and her six-decade-long artistic practice has profoundly influenced Arab and African modern art scenes.

Ishaq was born in 1939 in Omdurman Sudan and studied from 1959 to 1963 at Khartoum school, which was renowned for developing a hybrid visual vocabulary that combined Arabo-Islamic and African materials and motifs to create an aesthetic identity for the newly sovereign nation. She later pursued her postgraduate studies in painting, illustration, and lithography at the Royal College of Art in London between 1964 and 1969.  After returning from London, she served three decades as a tenured professor of the College of Fine and Applied Art, Khartoum.

She is highly influenced by the works of William Blake and the (Zar) spiritual rituals of Sudanese women.As a result of her influences, themes of her work are dominated by  mythology, storytelling, as well as the communal experiences of women and local histories, ranging from the prehistoric to the Christian and Islamic eras.  Her paintings are characterized by the distorted and faces and figures usually of women combined with plants and other organic elements. Her palette reflects  Sudanese urban landscape and natural environment with dark and muted tunes. Apart from her spiritual influnces she also highly admired the works of Irish-born British figurative painterFrancis Bacon.

Ishaq gained her initial recognition as an artist while being the member of the Khartoum School of painting from which she latter disassociated. The goal of that movement was a combination of African and Islamic cultural traditions with Modernism. She founded The Crystalist Group, a conceptual art movement that deviated from accepted norms in the Sudanese art scene, along with two of her students, Muhammad Hamid Shaddad and Nayla El Tayib in 1978. Their goal was to set themselves apart from the Khartoum School of painting and their conventionally male-centric viewpoint. The so-called Crystalist Manifesto, a public statement, served as a marker for this new style in Sudanese art. First published in Arabic as Al-Bayan al-Kristali, the document presented an artistic vision that attempted to work beyond the Sudanese-Islamic framework of the Khartoum School. Published in the influential Al-Ayyam newspaper, the manifesto called for a new post-modern aesthetic premised on transparency, diversity and existentialist theory.

The manifesto read, “The Cosmos is a project of a transparent crystal with no veil and eternal depth. The truth is that the Crystalists’ perception of time and space is different from that of others. The goal of the Crystalists is to bring back to life the language of the crystal and to transform language into something more transparent, in which no word can veil another – no selectivity in language. […] We are living a new life, and this life needs a new language and new poetry.”

Ishaq’s works are present in private and public collections, such as the Sharjah Art Foundation and the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah, UAE. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at institutions such as Serpentine South, London (2022); Prince Claus Fund Gallery, Amsterdam (2019); Sharjah Art Foundation (2016-2017); Galérie de l’Institut francais de Khartoum (2015); and Shibrain Art Centre, Khartoum (2014). She has also participated in group exhibitions at Lahore Biennale (2020); Saatchi Gallery, London (2018); Royal Society of Fine Arts, Jordan (2002); Sharjah Art Museum (1995); Whitechapel Gallery, London (1995); National Museum of Women in Art, Washington, DC (1994); and Camden Art Centre, London (1969), among others. She was the 2019 Principal Prince Claus Laureate. Her work is in the collection of the Sharjah Art Foundation and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.


YOUNG MAN LEANING ON A STICK; about 1629; 2020.11; No Copyright – United States (

A sketch is a rapidly executed freehand drawing intended to capture enough information about the subject to recreate a finished work. Sketching as a practice is prescribed for budding artists to help them understand form without any fear of making mistakes. Being an inexpensive medium of art sketching is preferred by artists to freely exercise their ideas in different perspectives. It allows artist to predetermine the elements of a painting or a drawing and their placement on final work. And therefore, a sketch servesseveral purposes: it might record something that the artist sees, it might record or develop an idea for later use or it might be used as a quick way of graphically demonstrating an image, idea, or principle.

Sketches do not require any particular medium; its flexibility of medium is yet another aspect that makes it preferable to artists to experiment. Although sketch as a term is most often applied to graphic work executed in a dry medium such as silverpoint, graphite, pencil, charcoal or pastel, but one can use paint and brush on paper or any other available material for sketching as well as a sculptor might model three-dimensional sketches in clay, plasticine or wax.

The basic method of sketching is line sketching, employed by artists to quickly capture the posture or mood of an object or scene. There is also shading method in sketching which allows artist to capture the depth of subject along with other aspects needed for further developing it into  a painting or a finished drawing.  Sketching is an important part of learning for art students and in most art schools and colleges students are encouraged to sketch from live models available in studio as well as plein air  Sketching. Sketching develops  control and increases the understanding of body movements which gradually helps art students to develop a sense of proportion and perspective. Sketching does not mind mistakes as long as one is genuinely and honestly trying to understand and develop his/her skill and thought process.

More often than not, sketches are used by visual artists as a way to capture or refine their ideas. Many pages in the sketchbooks of famous artists, such as those of Leonardo da Vinci and Edgar Degas, which have been considered as work of art, contain sketches along with finished studies. A volume of blank paper that an artist can use to sketch (or has previously sketched) is known as a “sketchbook.” The book may be ordered bound or it can be constructed or bound from loose sketches on leaves.

Unlike drawing sketching demands speed and when sketching on roadside or railway station it is exciting to try to capture different poses and postures of travellers as quickly as one can. Moving subjects who are not controlled by you offer a challenge for artist to exhibit his focus and skill.



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