Vigo Gallery is proud to present monumental new paintings by Cairo based Sudanese artist Salah Elmur from his emerging ‘Water and Electricity’ series. The exhibition will be the artists second solo show with Vigo following the ‘Innocent Prisoner’ series shown in October 2021 from which three works are now in the collection of Centre Pompidou.
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 symbolise 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 Authority for Water and Electricity, came knocking on the doors of his village as a child, the company’s plans filled him with wonder and excitement. Within the structures that house the water and distribute the electricity Elmur now sees stories, shapes, and feelings. He talks of fisherman, bathers, communal celebration, sustenance, anthropomorphic visions, fear and hope, money and power, fantasy, and folklore. The three works in this show introduce this series.
The artist’s work can be found in many important private and public collections, and he has had to date had solo museum shows at MACAAL, The Sharjah Art Museum and the Sharjah Art Foundation.
“Welcome to my imaginary soliloquy of paintings about water and electricity. That transparent magical form of matter that carries the soul within the body. Ordinary men and extraordinary women have bathed in sweet and salty waters. Fishermen draw their nets. Bathers enjoy its sweet splendours. Bottles and pipes carry it, and rain falls in celebration of children’s play, filling up wells, and washing fruits on trees. And when the water gets angry and pours its wrath on the earth from above or below it, there is no escape from it.
And I see the water tanks; towers made of cement and steel; high-rises loaded with water that break the sky. How beautiful are these beings, …spherical, pyramidal, or conical, on legs of steel intertwined in an embrace, like secret lovers, cylinders that carry water from bottom to top and top to bottom.
These beautiful buildings touch my heart and soul.
In them I see lovers who have left their beloved, a woman who bears a rose that did not bloom. I see tall trees and the piety of the Sufis, raising their hands in prayer. Dreaming women on the banks of the rivers, naked as they swim in mystical worship. Workers during their rest period... Behind them stand the towering pumps and ahead of them lay the giant electrical generators. Dams and bridges, romantic backdrops where lovers come to meet. Lamps in the streets, where drunks and hermits lay below. It is water. It is electricity. It is a man dressed in clay-coloured clothes from the Central Authority for Water and Electricity, and it is everything in between. I can see all this, and I am amazed.”
Salah Elmur 2022, Cairo.