Recognised for his lyrical, dreamlike drawings and paintings, Sudanese artist, intellectual, and poet Ibrahim El-Salahi’s work bridges Arabic calligraphy, Sudanese ornament, Islamic spiritualism, and abstract painting techniques learnt as a student at the Slade School of Fine Art in London in the 1950s. A founder of the Khartoum School, a Modernist group typified by an interest in exploring Sudanese aesthetic heritage following the nation’s independence in 1956, El-Salahi was hired by the Sudanese government to establish the country’s Department of Culture, running his own television show, Bayt Al-Jak (Jack’s House). In 1975 he was falsely accused of involvement in a failed anti- government coup and held for six months in Khartoum’s notorious Kober Prison. During his incarceration he secretly made drawings on scraps of cement casing, which he hid in the sand to prevent detection. The drawings from El-Salahi’s new Behind the Mask series were made during the Covid-19 pandemic. Depicting exaggerated figures and faces, dissonant linear abstractions, and knotty landscapes – each divided by frames whose placement is determined by the folds in the medicine packages and envelopes on which they’re drawn – El-Salahi’s new drawings match the claustrophobia of the pandemic with equally cramped and idiosyncratic compositions.