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.
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