Soimadou Ali Ibrahim: Chaï Time

Soimadou Ali Ibrahim

Artwork’s Title: Chaï Time

Materials Used: Acrylic on canvas

Studio Based: London

Soimadou Ali Ibrahim, Chai-Time, Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 80 cm
Soimadou Ali Ibrahim, Chai Time, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 80 cm,

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

It all starts with a feeling – how do I feel and what do I want to tell?

It can be based on a picture or a memory, as I’ve been collecting pictures of family members and friends for years. I always paint people I know and whom I’m close to. It’s almost a form of therapy for me. I always aim to express the personality by exploring the individual’s features and bringing them to life. That’s the reason I paint – to remember the traits of family members who live in Comoros and to feel closer to them.

Then, I have to decide on which surface I’m going to paint. I prefer wood – it’s my favourite surface. But depending on the format, if it’s a big one, I will opt for canvas (even if I do paint on large wooden panels occasionally). It just depends on the story and how I want to tell it. But for me it’s really important because I think the surface we choose to paint on can help capture and bring a certain mood. For instance, the wood grain is a crucial component for me, particularly how the surface interacts with the paint and brush strokes.

The process only becomes fun after I’ve spent quite some time doing the sketch and taking care to ensure the proportions are accurate. And then I paint. Almost carelessly you could say, which is slightly contradictory when compared to the sketching process, but I like it that way. There’s no pressure and I just let things go freely and in the moment.

How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?

Bold, free and personal.

Would you use another three different words to describe the Chai Time painting?

Tea, thoughts, brother.

How did you come up with this painting idea? Is there any story behind this painting?

This is some sort of methaphor about how having a cup of Chaï (tea) can give time for reflection and help to heal. Like British people say “A cup of tea can solve everything”.

A brother sits here thinking of his lost older sibling who he was unable to say goodbye to, holding their bond within his heart. The look in his eyes and the way he poses signal his pause for grieving. It’s a reminder for us to take time to remember the moments you shared with those who are no longer with us; to not forget their face, their voice and the bond you shared. That’s the story behind this artwork. But that’s only my story. For other people it can just be a man having a cup of tea, simple as that.

What colour is used the most in this painting?


What would be the best way to exhibit your work?

For me, it’s all about the artworks. Therefore the area they are in needs to be as simple as possible, with enough space between each so that they can express themselves and tell their stories.

Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

Henry Taylor, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Wangari Mathenge, Guy GreySmith, Alexis Ralaivao, Marcus Brutus, Horace Pippin, Lubaina Himid, Zaïko Langa Langa, Ali Farka Touré.

How do you know when this painting was finished?

When there was no paint left on the palette.

What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?

I just paint at home, it’s quite a small space and a bit messy but I like the spirit of it. It allows me to focus on painting. I hope to get a proper studio soon, as I would like to explore bigger pieces of canvas and wood.

What does your mum think about your art?

She always has something to say, indeed.

Which exhibition did you visit last?

THE PEARL at Ramp Gallery, in London.

Which are your plans for the near future?

Hopefully a group exhibition will be coming in November with two great artists, Alexis Ralaivao and Yordane Weingarten in Rennes, France.

Additional Paintings

Soimadou Ali Ibrahim, Youthful Innocence, 2020, Acrylic on wooden panel, 30 x 30 cm
Soimadou Ali Ibrahim, Youthful Innocence, 2020, Acrylic on wooden panel, 30 x 30 cm
Soimadou Ali Ibrahim, Full Time, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30 cm
Soimadou Ali Ibrahim, Café Des Épices, 2020, Acrylic on wooden panel, 30 x 30 cm

All images are courtesy of the artist


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