Sudanese artist transforms trousers into art

Published: Updated:

Sudanese artist Asim Ali selects his next canvas for his new art installation: a pair of old trousers.

Sifting through his cupboard, Ali find the garments he will use to illustrate stories about his life.

Ali says his work is a collection of memories from places he has visited around the world and friends he has made, especially as each pair of trousers belong to the artist.

“First of all, my belief in life is based on a saying I wrote a long time ago which is, “If the earth is square then it would be possible to hide in one of its corners, but since it is spherical we must face the world,” he said.

“The painting on the trousers represents the events that have walked with me in my life. On the other side it is an attempt to restore those trousers to life again. As usual, when trousers wear out they are neglected and stored in one of the old cupboards. I feel that those trousers are suffering; they are sad and are in pain because they are no longer alive. Being reactivated through a painting means that it has had its life restored,” added Ali at a recent exhibition in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

Ali first put paint to trousers in the 1990’s, and his oldest pair were worn during his high school days.

Ali says his choice of old trousers is also an effort to conserve the environment and avoid using paper.

His paintings sell for between 200 to 500 U.S dollars, but he says his concern is not about how much he earns from selling his work but on how much people appreciate it.

Fellow artist Amar Mansour was at the exhibition.

“Asim has managed to show important times and venues in the history of his life, or say in different stages of his lifetime that has had links with the Sudanese nation from 1990 up to this moment. He is representing the stages of his life since childhood up to now through the paintings on the trousers, and portraying the fashion of each era,” said Mansour.

Those visiting the gallery also had the opportunity to make their own mark on Ali’s trousers.

“One of the things that deserves admiration in this distinguished gallery of our brother, is that the visitors comment and sign each of the trousers. This is an unnatural notebook and these trousers will preserve the memories associated with them,” said visitor Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq.

Ali says inspiration for his paintings is also drawn from conversations and debates he has had with his friends and that the words on the trousers shared by the exhibition’s visitors will help develop his next idea.

The Sudanese artist also uses other personal possessions like his spectacles, which he says are a reflection of his history and personality.