Alioune Diouf: Ubeku

Alioune Diouf: Ubeku - Omenka Online

Ongoing at Selebe Yoon is the exhibition, Ubeku (“Ouverture”), a solo exhibition by the Senegalese artist Alioune Diouf (b.1964), following a two months residency in the venue. At the entrance is a monumental site-specific exhibition, a series of drawings made of natural pigments, his series ‘Gouney Jagaal’ that interweaves sewing and painting, as well as site-specific interventions.

Observing Alioune Diouf’s work, bodily gestures or train of thoughts is like being caught in a sudden march in the middle of the road and following its unpredictable twists and turns. We ignore what image his first charcoal line spontaneously drawn on a paper will unveil, what his words, devoid of artifice, will lead to or where his path will take us. And yet, his work irremediably carries us towards a unity that holds the variety of the world. But this unity is born from the most imperceptible details: a trace on a wall, a mango leaf, a sewing thread that eventually spawns countless numbers of figures, sacred symbols and patterns…

Who are these individuals, each with an idiosyncratic character, with a diversity of colours, size and appearance? As anonymous companions, these people are searching for the unspoken language of the world, in quest of a humanity. Amongst these faces, birds, horses, snakes coexist with totemic figures, cosmic and floral elements as well as hybrid and mythical beings such as a half-man half-bird creature or a baobab-man. He disseminates in his work universal symbols that have prompted ancient civilisation’s imagination for their sacred quality: the cross, the eye, the egg, the moon. As universal as these symbols might be, they constitute the intimate and spiritual repertoire of the artist. The bird – the intercessor between the sky and the earth – often leaning on the artist’s characters, is a messenger of the spirit. The cross evokes an axe and represents man in his desire for elevation; the egg – a symbol of life – is often wrapped inside the characters’ turbans, suspended above their heads or concealed in their forehead.

Alioune Diouf’s visual universe is both gracious and puzzling. The boundlessly large dances with the most infinitesimal details of the world in a constant overflow. Each figure drawn – from the bird to the tree, to the man, to the eye, – never ceases at its edge, but unfolds and stretches beyond its outlines to join the dance of this bustling carnival. In this uninterrupted motion of life, these figures are tied by a single sewing thread, by the same breath that animates all beings. It is an art that tickles spirituality, and a spirituality that caresses art. A possible humanity. A unity. An openness.

– Jennifer Houdrouge

Alioune Diouf: Ubeku runs at Selebe Yoon until 28 February 2021

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