Drawing Deceit and Desire
Serigne Mbaye Camara's artworks are truly, one of a kind. Unlike any other works emerging from Senegal today, his delicate pastel drawings are both ethereal and earthen. These drawings allude to a curious animal kingdom. They mock the absurdity of human existence in whimsical memes that are sky blue, bright pink and granite grey. His works are a testament to both the école des beaux arts in Dakar, and France's école normale supérieure en techniques de Cachan, where Serigne had spent years studying fine art. In terms of their conceptual stance and aesthetic demenour, Serigne’s works are distinctly negro-africaine.
Nevertheless, the artist offers us a more nuanced response to the contrarian Negritude movement. In the wake of post-war France, this helped garner a distinctly Black and African social and cultural identity for the continent and its Diaspora at the height of colonialism, throughout the 1920s and the 1930s.
Although they appear to be mocking the perils of power: inequality, deceit and even desire, Serigne’s drawings still remain subtle and subdued. Shrouded in a veil of make-belief, their characters: part human, part feline, part birdlike, deliberately obscure any hint of dissent or human flaws.
Serigne Mbaye Camara (b. 1948), is a remarkable sculptor, visual artist as well as a professor of art and design from Senegal. His works range from whimsical pastel drawings on paper to large-scale linear wood sculptures and shredded life size ‘gri-gri’ cloth installations. For decades, Serigne's works have been shown extensively across West Africa and Europe: namely at the musée Dapper in Paris, during the Havana and Dak’art biennales and at the Fondation Mitterrand in Paris. This is the first time Serigne’s drawings have been featured on Artsy, to coincide with Frieze and 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, in London.