A Story of Creativity
(Unrepeated in half a century)
Written by Prof. Ahmed Mohammed Shibrain
Two occasions celebrated the confluence of a couple of phases in the history of applied art in this country: The first was a collective exhibition of brilliant artists, shading another of juvenile painting. The latter was patiently collected from schools at Riyadh Locality titled "Brooding Creativity". Both festivals were inaugurated at Shibrain Gallery of the same quarters in Khartoum. The second was the great festival to open an exhibition of the renowned fine artist Mr. Shibir at the same gallery. This festival shall ever dig deep in the memory of Sudanese plastic artists. It was a phenomenon that is difficult, if ever possible, to recur by any individual figure among contemporaries.
The uniqueness in Mr. Shibir's bio data is enriched by the variation in Sudanese geography between the north and the south of the country. He lived in both halves to commemorate
the placid diffusion of contrasting environments. The result was a marvellous combination throughout the personal anecdote of sensitive responses. From such particulars was mounded his offspring titled " The Gist of Excitement". The seed was planted in his childhood that was brimmed with the contrasting apparitions of the sparsely populated villages in jungles with
dazzling equatorial streams. The eyes were stimulated not to concentrate on one bank there. The shores in the south are variously variegated according to the blend of Nilotic tribes. The
neighbouring clans share a beautiful sprit of social coexistence at war or peace.
At he forefront and the backyard, man serves to earn a living by rearing domestic animals or planting seasonal crops. In both: cases tribesmen utilize manual energy, away from minimal mechanization, that may minimize efforts of today compared to the drudgery of yesterday. In a of each flock are sheppard's to focus to direction in the morning. In the afternoon the sheppard may be dispensable. The female cows, longing for their baby calves, never lose instinctive routes of the sensitive maternity to milk their children punctually.
The process affects speed as well: late mothers walk faster. As such social situations, human affection is diffused into animal instincts. The result is the remarkable equality between owners of the multitudes and neighbours grazing wishes, realized or suspended.
On the left bank, facing Malakal, are thick forests of the haughty "Doam" - trees guarding the town on the opposite banks, in the shade of the mango foliage. Both species have their family set pollination and flowery seasons. Then a few months they launch their heavy fruits to the ground, free and countless weighing down the branches. There exists a popular interrelation among trees in such dense jungles, the soil between and the laden clouds in autumn. This progressive intimacy invites swarms of colourful butterflies.
The warm feelings are smothered by the green grass of natural perfumery. A little before midday, crocodiles creep out on the western bank to crawl all over the sand dunes, at a safe distance from curious and brutal emotion. As seen, this is a world that enduces contrasting creatures to build up a flourishing harmony in a brooding coexistence.
What is related here on paper is, therefore, not the mere acquaintance of geographic particulars in the account of climatic and natural adequacy. It even surpasses the definition of natural characteristics in instinctive harmony and beautiful integration of the similar or diversified. I related all the above as an introduction to the privacy in diagnosis as interviewed within the character of Mr. Shibir.
He is an artist of unprecedented creativity in masterpieces of aesthetic inclination reflected by
the line and colour on a space, the triangle that is integrated to form the elements of creative expression of dexterous plastic artists. The intention of this professional tendency in his
inventory and formation by direct eyesight or intuitive insight is to be discovered by the others through mediation into every personal symbolism for critical spectators.
The artist hides things to remain explicit in the eve of the critical outsider. By appearance, objects remain as mere readings of the bare eye as controlled by the natural mechanism of vision. Yet art cannot be assimilated by the biological iris protected by the human socket. Reading a lively art work invites the integration of a musical rhythm that stimulates the contemplation faculties in the human being. He approaches an exhibited piece of art with a longing that inhibits that inert vision field spreading throughout normal life. The natural field of art is nature with all that is implicit within or explicit without. The master of its treasurers is the human being, who is always alert enough through the strength of the instinct to discover beauty at ratios and in a harmony as explained visually or latently by the idiosyncratic aptitude of the artist.
Rhyme in genuine art is never monopolized by the strings that are controlled by mathematical equation to combine the tunes in the ear as the dancing rhythm. It is not limited to the rapture that tickles the ears, draw tears, hold the breath or move the limbs. The rhythm by which Mr. Shibir has fascinated spectators is of a fresh category. Particulars of distinction are capitulated by his own, choice of strong aesthetic manifestation. The force in his expressions imposes the relinquishment one's own well acquainted hypotheses that have been the daily supplication of contentment or nightly contemplations implanted by consistent agility. It is now may belief that the really acquainted life of an individual shall always be renovated almost on daily basis to maintain perceptible and spiritual appetite. One who wishes his intellectual faculty to be equal to chronological age is an individual who has lost control of steaming time into place.
The element of time can never be constant. To enrich the components thereof, one needs to shuffle the beat of inspiring quotations to remain the master of time and place. He ought
to move thins into the field of existent feasibility, the existence that holds one's break though one the creator. It exits those around to assimilated according to hypotheses of your personal
contentment. The fruit you reap is a dose of self- satisfaction that instils the wisdom you seek constantly whether you are in agility or stability. The congruence of life by repetition is a source of humility for human life by forsaking quantitative feasibility.
Recording details of the days Mr. Shibir spent in the southern environment form an introduction or prelude that continued to magnify for decades. They were influenced by the academic engines of systemic applied art to form the starting stroke for his blissful discoveries during successive years of tuition till the end of high education. Personal excavations by Mr. Shibir in all walks of life were resumed in Sudan but crystallized abroad.
In Germany he acquired broad dimensions of human acquaintance in the western art movement and the human phrame of reference. Such a knowledge was migrating through out Europe in the centre and at the rims among nations that were distinguished by broad varieties of sociology and technology. The, inaugurated techniques to develop and modify were then exported to world markets. Mr. Shibir assimilated this life style enough to penetrate his personal capacity: The Germans influenced his painting measurement, his harmony in art and design and his dimensions in architecture. The Europeans involved his talents in sculpture, graphic design and photography. He skilfully practised all acquired activities without a word of praise except for a resume to execute projects contracted services rendered to the university of Khartoum or curricula proposed at several faculties.
Mr. Shibir's dimensions of oil paintings are prismatic but the harmony is confluent. Profound dexterity is devoted to the lines constructing a unified aesthetic unit, with rims that are variegated from the centres of his paintings. Then lines and spaced criss-cross, regardless of simulating or contrasting the natal constituents perceived in nature.
The painter relies on abstractions where life is freed from natural tedium and melody of consistency to the dimensions of imagined insight. The result indicated the eviction of the artist to his own aesthetic values. The impartial clever spectator or critic shall love to meditate the literature transplanted. Yet though every masterpiece monopolizes the prestige of the magic therein, in the end it is a visual object with a variable power to convince the pleasure that invades the human eye of special individuals who are intellectually qualified to decipher relation whenever punctuated.
May I now devote concentration on another marvel of Mr. Shibir's talent. In graphic sculpture his experience adores my criticism marvellously daring and innovative. It very well may be termed "sculpture in modernism" with some intuitive graphic dimension. But still prior to that and to the well situated Shibir's endeavour, one would better record the story of Sudanese applied art.
It was first admitted as a western immigrant and a subject of visual education and aesthetic adaptation to combine colour to concept in academic painting have all been imported as a ready made outcome that had crystallized in western renaissance. It was first brewed in Italy:
during the twelfth century and continued to migrate among European habitats to develop to maturity by the beginning of the fifteenth. The tide continued till the advent of the twentieth
century. All the evaluation and paternity of the visual aesthetic knowledge was the legitimate baby of this applied art outcome. Then all the new knowledge invaded industry in skills, manual or electronic.
We in Sudan retained the status of a grand medium for educational experimentation, to the same style devised by the origins of innovation for their consumption. The age of the
renaissance is recognized as above four hundred years (1500-1900). By the will of the lord, started the great shock that drowned the creed of the renaissance art attraction, the beliefs
that hypnotized the eye and deeply rooted the aesthetic taste of the occidental individual, who hosted its flag at cities lanes and river banks.
1900-1910 witnessed the leap of the French innovative artist, Picasso up the bench of art expression. Among his entourage were seven comrades. Their adopted new styles in theory,
practice and criticism were all outside the renaissance traditions.
This was the advent of a venerated age outside the shades of western visual expression. It was never conformant even to standard measures of poetry and other conventional] dictions, even discordant to the deeply rooted congregational hymns. That was not the echo of their theatres, the murmur at their bars or negotiation at their forts at home or abroad, planted in colonies spreading here and there.
He came to preach the advent of a new art. He constituted the figure thereof from African origins, after migrating from the heart of the continent to the Mediterranean coastal towns in
Tunisia, Morocco, Algiers and Libya. The same art style crossed over to Spain, the cradle of the Islamic culture, that does not escape the alert eye till today. Overturned the table of the set standards for both the art creator and art recipient as well as their disciple in the colonies. Capitals in the west found it difficult to recognize any station or status for the art of Picasso and his fellows. They even despised it as coming from a purse of primitive art.
They had haughtily believed that African art is not qualified to rely on when investigating aesthetic intellectual and spiritual dogma, as based on contacts of daily life throughout history. They neglect the conventional appetite of these people in serious sculptural achievement hatched on river banks, where they venerated to live on the investment of their crops.
Africans are proud of their ever fruitful jungles. Yet the record of their art for contemporary critics is a mere primitive arena. At last they recognized the European fatal error. Here, they are now competing to criticize the same art academically in the nations patronizing it. When they wrote about cubism, the African reservoir was the lake. Tons of books were published about the African authenticity. Historical events as well as contemporary phenomena have been synchronized to deep philosophical concepts, brooded by the intellectual and spiritual detail within the framework of the African "primitive" sculptor. This artist has recorded individual daily life details of pleasure or sadness as depicted from public fragments, major or
minor, about him.
The twentieth century witnessed intensively significant criticism of the feasibility of African art. Sculpture was the focus of special attention. They investigated intellectual and spiritual
inclinations that have been incessant through the centuries. Here it is significant to note that such a survey accompanied a prominent critic, who travelled to Nigeria as a fact finder. Yul
Piere migrated to contemplate the whole story among the Yoruba, who have been documenting details of their lives within their art. His camera could convey evidence to path finding authors. Mr. Yul Piere remained patient for twenty years to excavate, investigate, contemplate and duplicate huge volumes about his virgin innovations in Yoruba art.
By the close of the sixties in the twentieth century he visited Sudan. He related to us
in a conference, lively intensive details. We recognized his clever pursuits in humting and analysis of his data that were tabulated in his later writings.
The most indicative survey, I impartially guess, is a book by John Golding on cubism historically and analytically within the span 1907-1914. The volume was published in 1971. For me it is a unique reference in reading the surface of this school and the global consequences thereof. It details the maternal attribution to the aesthetic artistic bosoms of the renaissance.
On the appearance of this reference, the British journals could not hide their appreciation in evaluation. The Sunday Times described the book as a “a serious inventory of applied art".
Several articles of criticism appeared in the British papers and records of later editions Most significant was the Spectator.
Relating the above details, wish we would soon convene a symposium on what Mr. Shibir has succeeded to display in his great works of authentic sculptural attainment with the Sudanese/ African context in prismatic graphic art. It present an approach never tried either by a redecessor or successors throughout global acquirement in all artistic versions.
He may be authorized to boast that his achievement is totally genuine, without borrowing any relevant criteria from any source or school of art.
The situation skill invites to write pleasantly about Shibir's museum, that has passed without any critical assembly to study or evaluate. For all contemporaries it would have been documented in a film, has never been shaken. Art halls in Sudan remain lame till they retain originals of Mr. Shibir's innovations.
I frankly need to confess that my appreciation of captioned museum has always been incessant for the fifteen year pursuant to the inauguration at Shibrain Gallery at the Riyadh of Khartoum, can still meditate the contrast in depth and eloquence between Mr. Shibir's exhibits and the late burlesque performance of others in Sudan or abroad.
The analytic and symbolic visions pop up at Shibir's masterpieces every now and then, The captivating African textured contributions in sculpture and graphic art are captions that never escape the memory of brilliant Spectators, The aptitude to write about such a creativity
has never faded in mu mind. The appetite in the moment of writing invaded my finger whenever I watched an aesthetic event of modern art. At last the motivation to evaluate and
appreciate Mr. Shibir's "Graphic Sculpture Art" was ripe. After my patient Study of the book "The School of Cubism, another reference of additional significance deserved my attention, "The Book of Cubism". It has been accumulated in France to a world fascinated by the Lethe dimension innovated by Picasso and his disciplines.
Another publication with material associated to Shibir's sculptured value i a new volume titled African Art (1971) by Frank Willet, published by Thomaes & Hudson in London. I frankly ought to confess that the contents were sumptuous meals. This book has taught me a great deal of what I had neglected about African aesthetic heritage in subject, analysis and heated aptitude to understand the variables of African intellectual background. The volume is an offspring of genuine and honest contact with a character of resourceful treasures of African art. In his dedication he writes what may interpreted as: "To the honourable friend, William Fo in recognition of my intensive knowledge drawn from him" .
The book consists of some seven subtitles:
- Development & study of African Art,
- History of African Art,
- Relief Art painting & Ancient Rock, -
- European Sources in African & Egyptian Art in Africa,
- African Architecture,
- African art today.
I believe the above titles are the first and last reservoir for all detailed scientific dialogue that negotiates the feasibility of this study in mediation and patient analysis of the African human
movement. Within priority in selection the auth evaluates objectives for the utilization of raw materials as obvious at several geographic, climatic and daily living environments. I earnestly hope that such studies shall present the focus of attention at colleges of art in Sudan. It deserves a rank of top priority for lecturers of art and the title of theses and seminars of
Such wishes shall never minimize the ambitions realized by the college of fine & Applied Art in the Sudan University of Science & Technology- Khartoum and the other faculties in Sudan throughout sixty years. They are internationally recognized as the bosoms that have satiated the creative figures of applied art.
Some of these have serious attempts to constitute their own aesthetic schools and are intellectually praised by Afro-Arabs. To crown such process formally, the state, through
ministries concerned, shall boost up the cream of fragmented endeavours into some deserved collective ambition. Considerable potentials are requested to fuel the grand status anticipated. To start with, it would be a clever start to evaluate successful endeavours like that of the innovative painter, architectural designer and creative sculptor, Mr. Shibir.
We further look forwards to assimilate our heritage in antiquities that dig deep in history. A lot has recently been excavated by the scientific zeal of world universities and global institutions. In this field we own huge potentials. Yet it needs to be translated into a serious scientific dedication of confirmed research convincement. Till to date, attainments have been casual, relying on an uncertified literature, which is not recognized by international expertise or agencies of experience that have carried titles of fame.
We are ambitious enough to have our own art specialized journals to conduct professional criticism, away from the fragmented literary anecdotal eloquence. This is far below the
world levels of art specialization and recognized schools of intellectual promotion. But how can our aesthetic and cultural life textualize existence? We shall have to approach squarely the roots of the crisis. We need to recognize and appreciate any flower of creation that blossoms in the Sudanese rich field of art.
Such recognition requires really moral standards based on impartial evaluation of confirmed renovators like the intelligent creator Osman El-Amin Shibir. According to any unbiased criteria, this artist rises to the status of the French Picasso, sculptor, Henry Moore and the German musician, Hayden and other such prominent figures in America and Asia.
May I finalize by bowing down before the strenuous efforts of this innovator in his domicile. Sudan from where fountains of Shibir´s streams flow down the valleys of the world.
Prof. Ahmed Mohammed Shibrain
Former Dean of the College of Fine and Applied Art at the University of Khartoum.