Lot 34
  • 34

SALAH ELMUR | The Family Portrait

12,000 - 18,000 GBP
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  • The Family Portrait
  • signed and dated 2017 (lower left)
  • acrylic on canvas
  • 129 by 140cm., 50¾ by 55in.


Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner


Sharjah, Sharjah Art Museum, Salah Elmur Fragrances of the Forest and Photos, 28 February-2 June 2018, illustrated in colour in the catalogue p. 50
London, Saatchi Gallery, Forests and Spirits Figurative Art from the Khartoum School, 24 September-25 November 2018, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Original canvas. Unlined. Appears to be sound. The work is in very good condition. UV Light Report: Inspection under UV light reveals no visible signs of restoration or repair. Frame: The work is framed in a wooden frame. Not examined outside of frame. Further enquiries: Please telephone the department on +44 (0) 207 293 6323 if you have any questions regarding the present work.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Sudan’s rich and culturally diverse society heavily influences the work of the Khartoum based artist, Salah Elmur. Salah Elmur is a member of The Khartoum School, which was a modernist artistic movement that began in Sudan in the 1960s with the aim of creating a contemporary visual language that echoed the unique identity of a newly independent Sudan. Other members of The Khartoum School include renowned artists, Ibrahim El Salahi and Kamala Ishaq.  Drawing on his most vivid and detailed childhood memories, Salah El Mur has created an impressive repertoire of work that has been exhibited internationally. Most recently, the artist enjoyed a major retrospective at the Sharjah Art Museum in the UAE. 

Salah Elmur’s visual vocabulary is nourished by his memories and his canvases are a reflection of the people, animals, sounds, smells and colours of his youth. From his most intimate relationships to the scenery of his childhood home just outside Khartoum, these memories are brought to present day through Elmur’s work. 

A Cat and a Girl and The Family Portrait come from Elmur’s Kamal Photography Studio Series, named after his father’s and grandfather’s photography studio. The series celebrates the nostalgia of photography. Fascinated by the sitter’s untold stories, the artist sees a photograph as a method through which to defy the passage of time. In Elmur’s Kamal Studio series each work is set within the confines of a photography studio; his sitters starring expectantly at the viewer, preparing themselves for the moment that freezes time. 

Salah’s portraits can be characterized by the stylized nature of his sitters. Elmur shows little regard for capturing the exact likeness of his subjects, focusing rather on the intimacy of their relationships and the overall ethos of the painting. Disproportionate and distorted, these Sudanese subjects vary in colour and shape and are rarely alone, often depicted amongst family or with various objects, plants and animals, the significance of which is clear to the artist but ambiguous to the viewer. The recurring presence of families and couples in Salah’s work is drawn from the importance placed on family in Sudanese culture. Salah’s portraits are snapshots into the quotidian lives of the residents of Khartoum, much as his father’s and grandfather’s photographs were.

Salah Elmur is a graduate of the College of Fine and Applied Art in Khartoum, where he concentrated in graphic design. Today, Elmur is recognised as an accomplished painter, illustrator, and photographer and is an award-winning filmmaker. Salah Elmur’s work can be found in several prominent collections including The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, Marrakech and the Sharjah Art Museum in the UAE.