Yasmeen Abdullah is a Sudanese visual artist, currently living and working in Khartoum in Sudan. She holds a BA in painting from the College of Fine And Applied Arts at the Sudan University of Science and Technology (SUST).
Yasmeen knew she wanted to be a painter from an early age. Born and raised in Qatar, she participated in art contests with the support of her family. But when they moved back to Sudan, they could not find any art classes at the elementary schools in their small town. Even in high school, there were no art programmes. Luckily, Yasmeen got accepted to the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the SUST, but she struggled to find her artistic identity after finishing her degree, and she started to teach painting at the college while trying to find her artistic vocation.
Yasmeen's turning point came when she began to read the poems of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. She instantly fell in love with his poetry and began visualising it into her own paintings. One recurrent theme in Yasmeen's art is the figure of the woman. However, Yasmeen struggled to present the woman as something deeply personal while also expressing a support for women in a simple manner. Mahmoud's poems made the balance between these two objectives easier for Yasmeen due to his poetry's beautifully portrayals of women.
Yasmeen has also been an active artistic voice in the Sudanese revolution, in which she uses her art as a mirror that reflects what is happening around her. Art becomes like a diary where she can express all her worries.
"Throughout history, artists have always made their work a witness to the history in which they lived. It is an aesthetic struggle that tells about events occurring in societies. Art helped the Sudanese revolution to reach the public opinion. As an artist, I try to reflect on the things happening around me and document the events that happened during the Great Revelation of December. Art is a way to send a worldwide message; to speak on behalf of those who lost their voices. A picture is worth a thousand words."
According to Yasmeen, before the revolution, the circulation of artwork was limited to a very small scale. This changed afterwards due to the important role art played in documenting it, and the Sudanese became more open to art. Due to medical reasons, Yasmeen could not participate in the protests, but she helped out in other ways. For instance, she was honoured to illustrate female stories and she also painted certain tragic events that happened during the revolution.
"I only used red, black and white because these colours reflected the three options we had. Either you were with the revolution (white) or not (black) and between these two there were deaths (red). But I also used blue under the well-known hashtag #blue_for_sudan to document these events in my way. The revolution changed me as a person and reflects in my work. I have more freedom to express my thoughts, feelings, and opinions."
Within the space of frame, Yasmeen tries to build a world that is undeniably separate from the one we live in. What fascinates her about any artistic medium is that it can pull the viewer out of a logical and common world and place them within a space that is more alive. With her art, she hopes the viewer will forget that they are looking at a painting and instead see an alternate reality. Yasmeen is always eager to develop her artistic practice and to find new visions and new ways to keep building and developing. She hopes to find new ways of translating more poems into paintings that invite the audience to get lost in her world.
I don't know who sold the country but I know who paid the price | Yasmeen Abdullah | 100x88 cm | (© Yasmeen Abdullah)
to the enemy who drinks tea in our house | Yasmeen Abdullah | 120x90 cm | (© Yasmeen Abdullah)
The meanings of homeland | Yasmeen Abdullah | 70x50 cm | (© Yasmeen Abdullah)
A hand that's spreads awakening | Yasmeen Abdullah | 130x130 cm | (© Yasmeen Abdullah)
in a memory of April 6th | 2022 | Yasmeen Abdullah | (© Yasmeen Abdullah)
blue hands | Yasmeen Abdullah | (© Yasmeen Abdullah)
El-Obied spirits | Yasmeen Abdullah | (© Yasmeen Abdullah)
what it takes to be free | 2019 | Yasmeen Abdullah | (© Yasmeen Abdullah)
The Other Me (2019, solo exhibition)
In 2019, Yasmeen opened her first solo art exhibition 'The Other Me' for the Women's day celebration. In the exhibition, she used different mediums and colour palettes to express the power of women, in which her objective was to make the viewers imagine another world in order to look beyond the colourful surfaces and tell stories of their own.
Yasmeen painted vase of flowers and fruits to symbolise life; she painted fish to express the flow of thoughts in our heads; she painted crumbs that represented the past; and she gave the paintings light to express hope. Yasmeen also painted furnitures as a representation of history. "If the furnitures could speak", Yasmeen says, "they would have told the stories of everything that went on around them."