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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

New Sharjah art book fair Focal Point to celebrate Sudanese artist Ibrahim El Salahi with book launch

The festival is home to lectures and workshops dedicated to all things art publishing

Sudanese artist Ibrahim El Salahi. AFP
Sudanese artist Ibrahim El Salahi. AFP

Sharjah is at the centre of the region’s publishing industry this week.

In addition to the Sharjah International Book Fair, which runs until Saturday, the emirate saw the opening of the inaugural Focal Point event on Thursday.

Organised by the Sharjah Art Foundation, Focal Point is a free three-day “art book fair” and features a plenary session focusing on the art publishing industry in addition to featuring titles from some of the world’s established arts publishing houses.

Held in the courtyard of the 19th century Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, art lovers can also get a chance to peruse a few exhibitions, attend an open studio and attend a series of workshops ranging from bookbinding and sketch arts to sessions where children can design their own calendar.

Tonight, Focal Point will host its key event: the launch of the Arabic translation of Ibrahim El Salahi: Prison Notebook. Published by the SAF and New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the book examines the seminal work of El Salahi, a Sudanese artist, cultural critic and diplomat who eventually became the first African artist to have a retrospective at the Tate Modern in London.

He was imprisoned in 1975 after falling foul of the regime of former Sudanese ruler Jaafar Nimeiri. The book looks at the artistic inspiration El Salahi found from his time at Khartoum’s notorious Cooper (now Kober) Prison.

The launch will feature a talk by Salah Hassan, professor and director of Cornell University’s Institute of Comparative Studies and academic adviser to Sharjah’s The Africa Institute.

Saturday will see sessions focusing on writing and design in 20th century journals and contemporary arts publishing from Asia.

Focal Point is running until Saturday at Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, Arts Square, Sharjah. 4pm to 9pm. Free entry. For the full program go to www.sharjahart.org

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