Over the span of more than fifty years, the Sudanese American and Chicago-based artist Amir Nour has created sculptures that reflect his remarkable ability to integrate methods, techniques, forms, and ideas that draw from his diverse experiences as a diasporic person. Nour was born in Shendi, an ancient city on the bank of the Nile River, and enrolled as a student at the College of Fine and Applied Arts in Khartoum in the mid-1950s. From the late 1950s to mid-1960s he trained at the Slade School of Fine Art and the Royal College of Art in London, later earning his PhD in African art in 2006 from the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Formative experiences for his art were his exposure to the diversity of Sudanese visual culture, arts, crafts, and landscape through annual trips to various parts of the country organized by the College of Fine and Applied Arts; the Western modernist tradition of figurative sculpture; and the work of many non-Western artists and art students he met in the United Kingdom. Nour’s artistic development portrays an artist deeply engaged with the shifting social, political, and cultural ground beneath his feet. The result has been a remarkable body of sculpture that speaks of a cosmopolitan vision in which several traditions collide to create a new visual language combining African-derived forms with a minimalist aesthetic. The new works and the archival material included in the retrospective exhibition Amir Nour: Brevity Is the Soul of Wit, organized by the Sharjah Art Foundation November 2016 to January 2017, attests to Nour’s sophistication and rigor as an artist and asserts his contributions to the canon of art history, not only as a transformational figure within Sudanese or African art movements, but also within global modern and contemporary art history. As Barthosa Nkurumeh once said, in Nour’s works one senses a “timelessness,” which “transcends the cultural space that inspired their evolution.”

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