Ibrahim Salahi's art training began at secondary school and continued at Gordon Memorial College, Khartoum. In 1953 the Sudan government sent him to the Slade School at University College London for three years, where he specialised in painting and drawing, with calligraphy as a subsidiary subject.
Returning to Sudan in 1957, Salahi taught for several years at the School of Fine and Applied Art, Khartoum Polytechnic, now Sudan University. UNESCO and Rockefeller Foundation scholarships afforded him the opportunity to work and travel in the US twice in the 1960s. After a short period back in London as assistant cultural attaché at the Sudanese Embassy, in 1972 he became the Sudan government's undersecretary for culture and information, a job which landed him in jail as a political prisoner, having been wrongly suspected of anti-government activities.
In 1977, he went into voluntary exile in the Gulf State of Qatar, where he worked as an adviser and translator for the government, and in the UK. He is now based in Oxford, from where he travels extensively to North America, Europe, the Middle East and, every year without fail, to Sudan.
Salahi's work is held in several major institutions including The British Museum, London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha.