Planting the studio from Sudan to Sharjah

Glean 3, Spring 2024

Interview by Michelle Mlati

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag

A cradle of bougainvillea among a variety of potted understorey plants greets you as you enter modernist and contemporary artist Kamala Ibrahim Ishag’s high-rise apartment in Sharjah, where she has set up her new studio. In December 2023, Michelle Mlati caught up with the artist and her plants while Ishag was transitioning from her beloved home country of Sudan to the UAE following the war that broke out in Khartoum in April 2023. Ishag has been based in Sharjah since May 2023. It’s a place she has maintained a working relationship to throughout her six-decade career.

Like many other artists who fled the war in Sudan, Ishag was only able to take the bare minimum of work that was dear to her with her. While she recalls her brief time in Egypt, where she stayed before coming to Sharjah, we reminisce about the likes of Reem Aljeally and Salah Elmur, a younger generation of Sudanese artists she has mentored, and the Egyptian artist Souad Abdelrassoul, all currently based in Cairo. She humorously notes how some people liken Abdelrassoul’s work to her own and qui (…)

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