Animal skulls covering human bodies, caged heads, a precise gesture that panics to stylize the contours and masses of the characters… The power of the works of Serigne Ibrahima Dieye is revealed at the Cécile Fakhoury gallery, in Paris, for his first exhibition in Europe. A brutal and colorful world baptized “Black Jungle” which expresses both a fascination and a lack of understanding of the violence inherent in our contemporary societies, whether West African or Western.
“It’s an allusion to the times in which we live and to the dark side of humanity. A messy and dangerous space where the strongest rule and crush the weakest. The starting point of “Black Jungle” was the trial of Moussa Dadis Camara [l’ancien dictateur guinéen], on trial for the September 28 stadium massacres in Conakry in 2009, where at least 150 people were killed and at least 100 women were raped. A symbol of government violence and the impunity with which leaders can sometimes act”emphasizes the artist.
Hybrid animals and mysterious figures
Born in 1988, Serigne Ibrahima Dieye is part of the young generation of painters from the National School of Arts in Dakar, from which he graduated in 2013. He develops a technique at the crossroads of drawing, collage and painting, and a universe made up of strange scenes, a sort of contemporary theater in which hybrid animals and mysterious figures are the protagonists.
These pictorial fables, between fantasy and drama, draw their depth from history and current events, and are made up of a gallery of zoomorphic characters that has continued to grow over time. An incarnation of a world invented but also drawn from reality. And the whole is wide: from the horror of wars to interpersonal pettiness.
“I first met Serigne Ibahima Dieye at my gallery in Dakar, during our opening exhibition in 2018. He had shown me his work, at the time only in ballpoint pen and on paper. There were already some central elements of his works: the preeminence of his gesture in spirals to form the bodies of his characters, the bestiary and the use of animal metaphor. I continued to follow him then, in February 2020, his first personal exhibition took place in my gallery in Abidjan”remembers Cécile Fakhoury.
The exhibition “Les Fabulistes” at the Le Manège gallery of the French Institute in Dakar in 2019, which presented the works of Serigne Ibrahima Dieye and Aliou Diack, already showed this correspondence of the work of young Senegalese artists with the literary form story and fable. To create his works, the people of Dakar are inspired by these forms of thousand-year-old stories with multiple geographies, from ancient Persia to the Mediterranean of the Middle Ages, from Jean de La Fontaine (1684-1695) to Birago Diop (1906-1989).
Through a strong plastic gesture, Serigne Ibahima Dieye intends to denounce this systemic violence of contemporary societies, while trying to make everyone think about their share of responsibility and the role that we can choose to play – or not – in this world. He observes his environment and is interested in the chaos that surrounds him, his popular stories and his forgotten territories.
“As of 2020, he has chosen to no longer use ballpoint pens and markers found on the market, but to replace them with Indian ink and acrylic in order to obtain a greater quality of rendering. and durability for his paintings, while maintaining his same aesthetic approach: the presence of beauty and poetry in the darkness of the world”specifies Cécile Fakhoury.
Inspired in particular by the American Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) and by the Senegalese Soly Cissé (born in 1969) “for the great freedom in their art and the energy that emanates from it”Serigne Ibrahima Dieye, who lives and works in Grand-Mbao, near the Atlantic Ocean between Dakar and Rufisque, proceeds to “a radical mise-en-abîme. It is no longer simply a question for the artist of using the wild characters of animals as a pretext to express the brutality of man. On the contrary, by choosing animal figures that have nothing to do with the situation depicted, he highlights the inextricable human vanity which seeks by all means to justify itself.wrote Delphine Lopez, director of the Dakar gallery of Cécile Fakhoury, in 2020, about the exhibition “Parables of a wild reign”.
“Black Jungle”, by Serigne Ibrahima Dieye at the Cécile Fakhoury gallery, 29 avenue Matignon, 75008 Paris. Until February 25. Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“Human diffractions”, by Serigne Ibrahima Dieye at the Suquet des artistes, 7 rue Saint-Dizier, 06400 Cannes. Until April 23. Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.