“I still remember the bill collector knocking on the door. And I see the water tanks. Towers made of cement; high rises loaded with water that break the sky... These beautiful buildings touch my heart and soul.” – Salah Elmur, 2022, Cairo
Vigo Gallery and Gallery 1957 are proud to collaborate on a joint exhibition and publication of monumental new paintings, set across both London galleries, by Cairo-based Sudanese artist Salah Elmur. Central Electricity and Water Administration will be the artist’s third solo show with Vigo following Water and Electricity, a preview of the initial works presented at the gallery in September 2022, that now form this expansive, eponymous body.
For Elmur, “Water and Electricity”, the elements necessary for life in the modern world, capture memories real and imagined, and hark back to the magic of his childhood in Sudan. They are our most valuable, precious resources and the infrastructure that has been built around these elements symbolises for him Sudan’s modern history and our potential as a species. He uses the imagery of water and power production as a vehicle to absorb and reinterpret memory, place and history.
When the Central Electricity and Water Administration came knocking on the doors of his village as a child, Elmur was filled with wonder and excitement at the company’s plans. Within the structures that house water and distribute electricity, the artist sees stories, shapes, and feelings. He talks of fisherman, bathers, communal celebration, sustenance, anthropomorphic visions, fear and hope, money and power, fantasy and folklore.
Painter, filmmaker, and author Salah Elmur is known for his colourful, symbolic portraits of Sudanese life. Described as nostalgic and surrealistic, Elmur’s paintings are recognised for their vocabulary of tilted perspectives and visual distortion, as well as his emblematic inclusions of plants and animals. Many of Elmur’s works draw on childhood memories of visiting his grandfather’s photography studio. His work also tackles topical socio-political issues: The ongoing Innocent Prisoner series, first exhibited in 2021, concerns the history of incarceration in Sudan since the 1960s. He has made six short films in the genres of documentary and fantasy, winning the jury prize at Ethiopia’s Images That Matter film festival in 2010 for Heaven’s Bird. Elmur graduated in 1989 with a BA in Graphic Design from the Sudan University of Science and Technology. His previous exhibitions include solo presentations at the Sharjah Art Museum (2018), and the Sudanese National Museum, Khartoum (2006), and the artist’s work can be found in many important private and public collections, from the Centre Pompidou, Paris, to the Minneapolis Institute of Art.