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La galerie Les Arts du Soleil

An existential painting

Senegalese art is painting! As a wave that recedes, such a sentence is diluted by artists who reveal the pitfalls of our flatness to consider this form of expression immovably. Sandiry NIANG is one of these artists of the young Senegalese creation. Joined the National School of Arts in 2004, he began a training that will break without impacting on his practice. It is therefore permissible to say that it is under the sign of unconvincing autodidaxis that his participation in several exhibitions will take place.

The artist has lived in the suburbs since the early 1990s. His work focuses on the mobility of people, social promiscuity and human concentration in cramped habitats where uncontrolled demography degrades the living environment. In his paintings, a few figures dematerialized by color are busy from skylights, concomitant rooms and lives in floor. In consultation with the spirits, in the company of animals or waiting for some miracle, they are also anonymous portraits or sensual couples. In any case, these figures suggest a paradox that requires a double reading: the extension of social ties can find a breeding ground in the oppressive proximity between members of the same family.

Translucent characters with enigmatic faces enthroned in all the paintings.

Often three in number, they function as visual markers. The individuals they overlook are rarely isolated. Hand in hand, infinite procession, facing the uncertain, they face cluttered cities, empty spaces and chaotic. The Homage to the Displaced (2017) series is part of this vein. It inspires reflection on the aspiration to an elsewhere located always on the other side of the walls of the house, the district, the country or the sea. The desire to leave is assumed by a youth under the weight of despair. They walk. And suddenly, the obsession and the shadows, all things that agree with a need for mobility, resulting from existential discomfort and the resulting disillusionment. And if I knew ... (2017) then acts as a refrain for all those disappointed with immigration.

In the face of information events (politics, economics, war, entertainment, science), the daily triviality of the dramas of immigration relegates the latter to the rank of various facts whose structure belongs, according to Roland Barthes, to the register of the unspeakable and unclassifiable. But Sandiry Niang treats this question, in a way much more political, while designing his work less as an instrument of defense of the masses than mere expression of an individual freedom. And for good reason, even if he willingly makes material foundation a determining factor of human existence, his work can not be Proudhonism.

Sandiry Niang models depression and despair, but he reaffirms hope and optimism in the treatment of matter. Straddling several color palettes-with a dominance for the earth-color, it juxtaposes temporalities, sometimes reminiscent of the wet walls of caves that reveal layers of life. Like a sculptor, he uses black to recreate light and creates volumes from collages, degraded tar, and sometimes writing. Singularity is expensive. And the artist assumes his compositions, putting red or yellow on black. This aggression of the eye creates surprise and discomfort for some. It is a daring that the painter manages to make accept for the greater happiness of the observers that we are.

In short, let's go back to the incipit of this article. Senegalese art is painting! But what painting? For if the latter has given its letters of nobility to the Senegalese visual arts, it is, historically, in a permanent metamorphosis. The process of reconstructing a new pictorial imagery is a long journey paced by Senegalese artists since at least the 1960s. Some research has always interacted with the history of ideas and socio-political events. However, the rejection of the early formalism in favor of a series of experiments resulted in a valorization of the production process to the detriment of the product and the affirmation of the social problems in front of aesthetic issues. Without going into the conceptual whole, Sandiry's painting espouses the spirit of this collective research.

 El Hadji Malick Ndiaye