El-Salahi majored in art at the School of Design at the Gordon Memorial College, now the University of Khartoum . Then he went for the period 1954-57 with a grant from the Slade School of Fine Art in London and he also spent some time as Perugia to become familiar with the Renaissance art . Back in Sudan, he taught at the School of Fine and Applied Arts in Khartoum.
In 1962 he received a scholarship from the UNESCO in the United States and visited South America . From 1964 and 1965 he returned to the U.S. with support from the Rockefeller Foundation , and in 1966 he led the Sudanese delegation at the first Black Art Festival in Dakar .
El-Salahi was assistant cultural attaché at the Sudanese embassy in London from 1969 to 1972, after which he returned to Sudan as culture director and then as deputy minister of the Ministry of Culture and Information to September 1975, when he was imprisoned for six months without charge put . Then he left the country, where he first few years in Doha , Qatar , worked until he settled in Oxford .
He developed his own style and processed as one of the first artists Arabic calligraphy in his paintings. His work developed in several phases. The first period runs from the fifties to seventies and are dominated by basic shapes and lines. Then his work was in the late seventies more meditative, abstract and organic. He worked mainly with black and white and the focus was on the lines.
Ibrahim el-Salahi was honored in 2001 with a Prince Claus Award .
In the summer of 2013, he will be a major exhibition held in the Tate Modern with a retrospective of his entire oeuvre.
- 1960: Grand Hotel Exhibition Hall, Khartoum
- 1961: Mbari Gallery, Ibadan
- 1963: Academy of Fine Art, Calcutta
- 1963: Middle East House, Washington DC
- 1963: Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
- 1963: Galerie Daberkow, Frankfurt am Main
- 1965: Museum of Modern Art , New York City
- 1966: Philadelphia Museum of Art , Philadelphia
- 1967: Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
- 1967: Galerie Lambert, Paris
- 1969: French Cultural Centre, Khartoum
- 1969: Nommo Gallery, Kampala
- 1969: Camden Arts Centre, London
- 1972: Agysimba Galerie, Berlin
- 1974: Art Gallery, NCCAL, Kuwait
- 1978: Maison de la Culture, Reims
- 1984: Iwalewa-Haus, Bayreuth
- 1990: Iwalewa-Haus, Bayreuth
- 1992: Savannah Gallery, London
- 1992: Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
- 2012: Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah , United Arab Emirates
- 2013: Tate Modern , London (planned)