Lot 38
  • 38

HUSSEIN SHARIFFE | Birth and Death of the Stars

12,000 - 18,000 GBP
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  • Hussein Shariffe
  • Birth and Death of the Stars
  • signed and dated 1995-96 (lower left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 140.5 by 140.5cm., 55¼ by 55¼in.


Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner


Original canvas. Unlined. Appears to be sound. Some fraying to the edges of the canvas. Wooden strips, which have been adhered to the sides of the canvas, are broken in places and are beginning to lift. Upon close inspection, there are minor stretcher marks visible along all four edges of the canvas, particularly along the upper edge. There is minor wear and associated minor surface loss visible to all four corners of the work.Upon close inspection, there are minor surface cracks throughout the surface of the work, particularly within the upper left hand quadrant. There also appears to be several minor scratches to the paint surface throughout, particularly within the lower left hand quadrant. UV Light Report: Inspection under ultraviolet light reveals some uneven fluorescence due to what appears to be some kind of residue but no visible signs of restoration or repair. Framing: This work is unframed but stretched. Wooden strips adhered to sides of the canvas. Further enquiries: Please telephone the department on +44 (0) 207 293 5463 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

Hussein Shariffe was born on July 7th 1934 in Omdurman, Sudan.  A recognized painter, poet and filmmaker, Shariffe was a member of a prominent and influential Sudanese family, the artist’s great grandfather was Mohammed Ahmed Elmahdi, politician and religious leader who in the 1880s was central to the fight against colonialism in Sudan. Shariffe’s interest in art began at a young age when he was encouraged by a teacher at Comboni College in Khartoum to develop his talent. Unfortunately, Shariffe’s enthusiasm for a career in the arts was not reciprocated by his family who favoured an education in the medical or legal field. As a compromise, Hussein Sharrife moved to Cambridge to study Modern History at Fitzwilliam College. However, once there the artist quickly transferred to Sheffield University to study Architecture and then finally to the Slade School of Fine Arts where he studied under Lucien Freud. During this time, Shariffe would win the John Moores Prize for Young Artists and in 1958 the artist held his first solo exhibition at Victor Musgrave’s Gallery One in London. Although the artist was almost entirely educated in the West, he never lost touch with his Sudanese roots. This duality between regions was very impactful for Shariffe and is often referenced within his body of work.

Hussein Shariffe’s first love was always painting; the artist relished the solidarity of painting. Nevertheless, Hussein Shariffe also showed a great interest in cinematography, believing that film allowed him to transcend social classes, reaching a wider audience for this work. In 1972, at the request of his friend and Sudanese modern master, Ibrahim El Salahi, Hussein Shariffe became Head of Film for the Sudanese Department of Culture. 

Birth and Death of the Star was created in 1995-97—a time that Shariffe has described as pivotal in his development as an artist—and is exemplary of Shariffe’s practice. The artist is a master at juxtaposing colours, creating wonderfully colourful and vibrant works that are reflective of his itinerant lifestyle as well as Sudan’s complex political history.

In November 2016, Hussein Shariffe’s work was included in The Khartoum School- The Making of the Modern Art Movement in Sudan (1945-present) at The Sharjah Foundation in the UAE.