By His Will, We Teach Birds How to Fly
By His Will is an early, landmark series embodying a mode of work, ideas and an æsthetic that underlie El-Salahi’s larger oeuvre.
By His Will is an early, landmark series embodying a mode of work, ideas and an æsthetic that underlie his larger oeuvre. It is testimony to his spirituality and passion for freedom and human dignity. Inspiration for this series came from a habit his father (like Ibrahim a devout Sufi) had of praying with his index fingers pointing outwards from his entwined hands, forming a shape that resembled the beak of the bird prevalent in El?Salahi’s dreams. The bird is a classic motif that recurs in El?Salahi’s work from the early sixties to the present, representing freedom, justice and also the artist himself.
In the late sixties El?Salahi talked of having ‘cut myself loose from all ties to any style I had embraced in the past, or to any current school in the art of the period. At the same time, I was unembarrassed about staying open to the fleeting inspiration of vision and spirit.’ It is these fleeting moments, apparent in this series and throughout his career, where visual images intermingle with visions and dreams that have inspired El?Salahi’s visual dramas and given vent to his artistic passions and emotions. In this El?Salahi shares a surrealist’s tendency to explore the unconsciousness and tap into a world of dreams and fantasies.