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The Senegalese artist Serigne Ibrahima Dieye was born in Dakar, and graduated from the Ecole Nationale des Arts de Dakarin 2013. His formal training led to the development of his practice—one at the crossroad of drawing, painting, and collage. Often on large-format square canvases, his creations are mixes of symbols, forms, and materials, resulting in a composition of strange, awakening scenes. This type of contemporary theater via art is translated by a hybrid of animals and mysterious figures, lending the viewer to follow a tale of fantasy and drama.
Today, his exhibition “Paraboles d’un règne sauvage” is on view at Galerie Cécile Fakhoury in Abidjan through May 30. Although many viewers will be unable to physically visit the exhibition, they can view his works through the gallery online. Through paintings, works on paper, and an immersive installation, his exhibition continues to reflect on the political and social landscape of today. Animals and figures continue to be present, this time thirsting for power, showing their selfish nature and obscure motivations in a hostile universe.
Whitewall spoke with the artist to hear more about how he’s doing amid the pandemic, why he’s focusing on “man,” and how brutish behavior is inspiring him.
WHITEWALL: How are you doing?
SERIGNE IBRAHIMA DIEYE: I’m not doing too well, but I’m trying to stay positive through this ordeal that our planet is facing. My artistic practice consists of uncovering and denouncing means that I am generally not fine. Sometimes I feel that I have the same approach as a scientist—I observe, I calculate, I analyze, and I try and put myself in everyone’s shoes.
WW: What are you listening to, reading, watching?
SID: I listen to the world, I read minds, and I watch reactions. In the course of a day, I will follow the news to see what’s happening in different countries around the world. Right now, nearly the whole planet is in a state of lockdown. People have more time and it’s an opportunity for self-reflection. I personally spend the whole time reflecting on “man.” That is my subject. I listen to it, I read it, and I observe it.
WW: What are you cooking?
SID: I’m pretty good at cooking. I usually cook with my sisters. I got used to cooking during my trips and when I lived alone, and I have to say that most men here don’t always know how to do that! Sometimes I make eggs for breakfast, and in the evening, I make skewers. But I don’t eat too much. I just have to eat something in the morning and then I can keep going the whole day without eating, especially when I’m painting.
WW: How are you staying connected?
SID: I follow the news on my phone all the time. I sometimes go months without watching TV. I go out from time to time to do my shopping, and at the same time, I take the opportunity to see what’s going on outside. Each time I get home, I am shocked. I believe we are living through the Resurrection—that day when, as Islam says, the father will flee from his own son, the mother will do the same, and everyone will end up running from their neighbors. That is exactly what we are experiencing right now.
WW: How are you staying creative? Are you able to make work at this time?
SID: My concern is the daily life of the world; of my native country, Senegal and of Africa. But not only that. Art is openness and freedom. I don’t force myself to create a work of art, it comes to me naturally. Once I have an idea in my head, I materialize it.
WW: Where are you finding hope or inspiration?
SID: All the works I have done, and all the subjects I have dealt with, have a connection with what is happening today. I still think that they will be around for a long time. The world is currently creating an exam, with lots of different subjects being tested. Everyone is free to tackle the topic they want to.
I’ve got my blank page, you’ve got yours, and it’s up to you. My inspiration comes from the brutish behavior of man in his daily life. We have always been in some sort of confinement, and we will continue to be, but perhaps we are only realizing this now for the first time.