images / World speaking out

Against the odds: Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq

Being an artist, writer, musician, teacher, journalist, or other professions involves a lifetime of learning and a never-ending-journey. Perhaps no one understands this better than Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq, who graduated from the College of Fine Arts in Khartoum in 1963 and was a founding member of the Khartoum School, a modern art movement established in Sudan in 1960. The movement used Islamic imagery to comment on social issues.

However, facing a male-dominated art scene. in 1978 Ishaq also co-created the Crystalist Group, which promotes a Sudanese artistic aesthetic that was based on diversity and transparency. It aimed to counter the conservatism of the male and Sudanese-centric outlook of the Khartoum school, and to practice art based on feminism and internationalism.

Ishaq depicts the lives of Sudanese women, often presenting them as a unit rather than as individuals, and thereby reinforcing the commonality of the issues women face.  She provides an alternative view to that provided by the patriarchal art establishment in Sudan.

Art is a creative process rooted in an uncompromising self-discipline, she believes. “An artist must paint, draw or create every day without fail. Every day. I have done this all my life,” she says.

Below: Isahq working, and some of her many artworks.

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