50 Golborne is delighted to announce the first solo show in the UK of Dakar (Senegal)-based artist Cheikhou Bâ: Migrations, featuring a new series of sculptures and oils on canvas.
The small sculptures treated in the pitch-black wet-paint effect signature that the artist has perfected in the last few years present intriguing figures that are part birds, part humans. Adorned with additions of found material: buckles, coloured leather, metal chains, these tragic and comic, scary and familiar chimeras appear in various states of contrived motion. The paintings -- all oils on canvas -- consist of a collage of two or more either vertical or horizontal panels making what Ba calls: “uni-polyptychs”. Motifs like balloons, or sudden streaks of bright colours are scattered on the panels around which scribblings, a motif of a popping eye or a swiftly sketched muzzle of an animal are introduced -- raising questions. The whole canvas suggests a sense of swirling dynamics that is interrupted by the presence of the collaged panels, but not altogether stopped. It is difficult to look at Cheikhou Bâs new artworks without thinking of the recent social and political tensions that have arisen worldwide in response to the refugee crisis. The use of chains in some of the sculptures and the titling of some of the paintings, for example “Ma tete, ma maison”, more overtly critique the growing world-wide temptation to close borders. As usual in Bâ’s work, a unique tone transpires from these works expressing both a feeling of deep empathy and unrest. It can be argued that Bâ’s use of hybrid figures are part references to the ‘Ontology of Negritude’ a concept introduced by Leopold Senghor, the poet and intellectual who became Senegal’s first President in which to be human is also to be animal and to be matter all at once; to be both male and female; and to be in constant motion between these moving states. The twirling sensation generated by the composition of the canvas seems to inform that physical migrations mirror some fundamental moving urge for human beings. Migrations appear there as a primal phenomenon that concerns man, animal, nature and all things together, and that it is as unavoidable as the movement of the earth itself. At the same time Bâ, in undifferentiating human, animal and matter, also plays with what is defined by Julia Kristeva as ‘the Abject’, generating also unease for the viewer of both sculptures and paintings. In ‘The Myth of Independence’ the character is restricted by heavy chains, taken from cheap imported objects, part of belts or jewellery- that nowadays fill West African markets. Human is no longer free animal and earth matter, but a tragic enslaved commodity. In the canvas, the tension between the use of bright colours some of them taken from the realm of childhood such as hot pinks and baby blues, and the motifs of isolated parts of man or animal heads contributes to underline disquieting questions.
Born and based in Dakar, Senegal, Cheikhou Bâ trained at the Dakar Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts before studying ceramics at the Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD). His body of works includes ceramics, paintings, mixed media installations and sculpture, and focus on questions of ontology and ethics in the current socio-political global context. Cheikhou Bâ, was selected twice for the Dakar Biennale. He has most recently exhibited in Bilbao (Spain), Neuchatel (Switzerland), London (UK), Dubai (UAE), NYC (USA) and is currently in the group show entitled "Light, Shadow” at the Opera House in Cairo (Egypt).