October 19, 2019 - Prince Claus Fund - Kamala Ibrahim Ishag: Women in Crystal Cubes
October 19, 2019

Prince Claus Fund

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag, Women in Cubes, 2015. Oil on canvas, 155 x 115 cm. From the collection of Samia Omer Osman. Courtesy of the Sharjah Art Foundation.

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag
Women in Crystal Cubes
November 1, 2019–May 1, 2020

Prince Claus Fund
Kingsfordweg 151
1043GR Amsterdam
Hours: Monday–Friday 10am–5pm

T +31 20 344 9160

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The Prince Claus Fund welcomes you to the solo exhibition Women in Crystal Cubes by one of the leading influential artists and pioneering modernist painters in Sudan: Kamala Ibrahim Ishag. Ishag was a foundational figure in the Sudanese modernist movement, known as the Khartoum School, and later established the Crystalist Group, a conceptual art group that challenged traditional practices in Sudanese art. Women in Crystal Cubes selectively traces Ishag’s half-century journey as an artist. The exhibition at the Prince Claus Fund Gallery is Ishag’s first solo exhibition in the Netherlands. In December she will receive the 2019 Principal Prince Claus Award.

Women in Crystal Cubes is co-curated by Dr. Salah M. Hassan, Goldwin Smith Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History and Visual Culture and Director of the Institute for Comparative Modernities at Cornell University (USA), and Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, Director and President of Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE). Women in Crystal Cubes was originally shown at the Sharjah Art Foundation in 2016.

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag (1939 Omdurman, Sudan) was among the first women artists to graduate from the College of Fine Arts in Khartoum in 1963. She went on to do postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Fine Art, London (1964-1966). While still a student in the early 1960s, she was briefly associated with the Khartoum School (with, among others, Ibrahim El-Salahi, 2003 Prince Claus Laureate.) The Khartoum School was an art movement that forged a modern identity for the newly independent nation by drawing on both its Arab and African traditions.

Later on, Ishag broke away from the movement due to its emphasis on tradition and its male-dominant outlook, and, together with a number of her students, established the Crystalist Group. The group issued the Crystalists Manifesto, which characterised the world as infinite and unbounded, like the transparencies and reflections of a multi-faceted crystal. In her own work, Ishag has concentrated on the intangible and spiritual aspects of women’s experience. She conducted field research and produced paintings and academic papers about Zar, a traditional Sudanese women’s spiritual ceremony that entails spirit possession and trance-like performance. The works and writing of William Blake and Francis Bacon were a large influence in Ishag’s portraits of distorted women figures.

Ishag will receive the Principal Prince Claus Award on 4 December 2019 at the Royal Palace Amsterdam. The Prince Claus Awards Committee writes in its report that Ishag is honoured “for her original, vibrant and haunting artworks…her revolutionary intellectual challenge to the established artistic paradigm…her support and empowerment of women, leading the expansion of women’s roles…her immense contribution to Sudanese artistic education…[and] for her integrity and ongoing dedication to innovative aesthetic thought…”

The Prince Claus Fund supports, connects and celebrates artists and cultural practitioners where culture is under pressure.

The Prince Claus Fund is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dutch Postcode Lottery, private companies and individuals. The majority of works featured in this exhibition were generously provided on loan from the Sharjah Art Foundation’s collection.

The Prince Claus Fund would like to thank the following contributors for helping make this exhibition possible: the Sharjah Art Foundation, Lina Haggar and the Haggar Foundation, DaL Group Company Ltd-Sudan, the Barjeel Foundation, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Elamin Osman, Issam Abdel Hafeiz, Samia Omar Osman, Osama Daoud Abdellatif, the Magdoub Rabbah Family, Salah Elmur, Fathi Osman, Amira Swar El Dahab, Nada Osman, Amir Daoud Abdellatif and Reem El Roubi. 

Entrance to the exhibition is free.

Opening in the presence of the curators:
Thursday, October 31, 2019 RSVP 

The gallery is open during Amsterdam Art Weekend November 22-24, 2019. Keep an eye on the Prince Claus Fund's website for additional activities around the exhibition in 2020.

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Women in Crystal Cubes
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