Inspired by his upbringing, where he came into intimate acquaintance with the Nile valley as well as the Sahara desert, Sudanese-born Ashraf Elsharif uses a multiplicity of media to capture the experience of living in Africa. Whether working in painting or photography, what underlies Elsharif’s output is a fidelity to the formal contours of a place, visage, or social situation. Elsharif’s artistry has less to do with showing non-Africans pictures of daily life in Africa, than with recreating landscapes, figures, and architectural patterns that only Africans can truly experience.
Ever-conscious of the fragility of legends, royal genealogies, architectures, and other ancient regional signifiers in the wake of globalization, Elsharif’s Nubian Gate at Karima is a candid glimpse into an ordinary occurrence that non-Africans are not likely to experience. A man is photographed opening the door of an architecturally elaborate temple; and this moment is captured in a way that makes it appear less sacred than familiar. In this way, Elsharif preserves the dailiness of a society that is too often relegated to the status of an exotic third world.