“The Last Sound”, became like a home to me, where I am a stranger in a strange land. Visiting the painting, almost every day to enjoy its company! I know it is an emotionally charged statement, but it is truthfully, how I feel. I am not looking to write, something like an art historian or an art critic. I am writing about my feelings toward the painting, and by extension toward El- Salahi.
Every time I visit the painting, I feel the need to be back and see it again. I know some might pass by and not notice it unless they already know who painted it, because of its subdued colors, and delicate shapes.
“The Last Sound”, is a very "quiet" painting even though it is bustling with life, unless you have a keen sense of observation you would not see what it has to offer. Nothing on it is shouting at the viewer, with a “look at me” attitude, like what is expected of works of art in general, to attract attention, more too often than not that happens in a sort of loud way, it’s for “show” after all!
"The Last Sound", is like a gentle touch, and has its own way of pulling you in, and keeping you close. Most of the writings, which I have read with regard to this painting, were in the area of the “African mask” in the center of the painting, which is the focal point. However, I would like to mention some other areas in the painting; I see them as equally powerful. Salahi, painted it as a prayer after his father's passing and filled it with written prayers and images of birds.
House Finch, people in Sudan call these very small birds “paradise birds”, I think this one is a male because of its reddish color, setting next to the small black mask in the center of the canvas. In some parts of Sudan, people believe that when they die, if they were good they come back as “paradise birds” House Finch birds.
A well-known Sudanese song, tells of the Guinea fowl passing by in the countryside of Sudan, and here the Guinea fowl with its intricate patterns, is shown leaving the circle of images in the center of the canvas.
A small dancing pigeon graced the right top part of the canvas, underneath the written prayer. As a child, I remember when in Khartoum almost every grandmother had a number of dancing pigeons in her flock of pigeons.
Three mourning doves, one in a light blue color, and the other two have the same color as the background, all enjoying themselves at the top of the written script on the right corner of the canvas.
I believe the painting shows Sudan in a more intimate light rather than a broad brush impression.
An obvious example is the celebration of birds in the painting. If you know about Sudanese culture, you would know that birds are one of the most celebrated animals in Sudan. In songs and poems, in children’s play songs. The connection with birds is too strong that it surpasses life into death as well, which is deeply rooted in the Sudanese culture.
See if you can find the other birds that I did not mention!
Sharjah, July 2018