Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ousmane Sow, the death of an african giant – The Figaro

DEMISE – The great artist from Senegal died at the age of 81 this morning (Thursday 1 December in Dakar. He was a long time physio before being completely sculptor, creating a people of heroes oversized and spirited that reflected its vitality, its independence and humanism.

On December 11, 2013, he was the first black artist to enter the Academie des Beaux-Arts, to the chair of the american painter of Christina’s World, Andrew Wyeth. The second under the Dome from the entrance of Leopold Sedar Senghor to the French Academy. It was a giant african, beautiful and peaceful, whose sculptures, larger-than-life reflected both the ambition, vitality, and benevolence. Born October 10, 1935 in Dakar, a mother of st. louis, and a father dakar thirty years her senior, Ousmane Sow died this Thursday, December 1st at 5: 30 in the morning, at the age of 81. “bringing with him dreams and projects that his organization, too tired, did not want to follow” we said modestly, Béatrice Soulé, who shared his life, his love of Africa, her life-long struggle of artist to cross the borders, the a priori and the categories. “For six months where he has been many times in hospital, Ousmane Sow has been very surrounded emotionally and very well taken care of medically, both in Paris and in Dakar, at the hospital Pompidou as at the Main hospital” she says in the beautiful message that is sent first to friends before the new official arrives in the press agencies.

How to imagine sick and fragile the heart of this great man who exuded power and a sort of eternal youth, in spite of the short gray hair? Although sculpting since childhood, it is only at the age of fifty years, he has made sculpture his profession. Physiotherapy he held until then is not foreign to the sense of sculptural anatomy that one finds in his work. During all these first years of activity, it transforms at night his medical office and apartments, each successive sculpture workshops, destroying or leaving behind him works that he creates. Revealed in 1987 at the French Cultural Centre in Dakar, where he presented his first series on the wrestlers in the Nuba, the artist exhibited six years later, in 1993, at the Dokumenta of Kassel in Germany. Then, in 1995, at the Palazzo Grassi, on the occasion of the centenary of the Venice Biennale. His exhibition on the Pont des Arts in the spring of 1999 attracted over three million visitors. Since then, his work has been ex posed in twenty places, including the Whitney Museum in New York.

“Ousmane Sow returns the soul to the body of the sculpture”

“striving to represent the man, Ousmane Sow works in series and focuses on the ethnic groups of Africa and then to America. Drawing its inspiration as much in photography as in film, history, or ethnology, his art found an epic feel that was believed to be lost. Fundamentally figurative, showing, however, a concern for truth away from any realism, its effigies of larger-than-life are sculpted without a model. These figures have the strength of blending successful between the art of the great statuary of western and ritual practices of africa. With the irruption of his Spree in the mid-1980s, Ousmane Sow returns the soul to the body of the sculpture, and Africa in the heart of Europe. Passing from one continent to another, it is a tribute, in its creation on the battle of the Little Big Horn, the ultimate warriors of the same sun. Of the peoples of Africa to the Indians of America, he is seeking the fluid of these men standing. As if it was for him to offer a mirror to those ethnic groups, nomadic, proud, and lovers of beauty, this art of the sedentary that they lack: sculpture”, analysed the critic Emmanuel Daydé, co-curator of the exhibition adu pont des arts.

the site, on a background the color of earth, is a novel amazing and human part of Africa to travel to France and the world as vast as the item The life of Ousmane Sow is told with a verve as a griot, thanks to the energy full of affection, Béatrice Soulé. So here, in seven years, Ousmane at the French School – where he attacks his first sculptures – and attended a koranic School. His education is “strict, without too much protests sentimental, but he will be able to endorse the qualities of his father, a muslim, informed, generous, denying the charges and declined the honors, and respects the freedom of thinking to the point of allowing his wife to vote differently from him in the elections”, stresses the author Jacques A. Bertrand. This father fought in France during the first world war and received the Croix de Guerre: he never talked about it. This year, Dakar is bombarded.

ten years ago, Ousmane carved limestone blocks found on the beaches, ” continues the writer, which takes a character worthy of Victor Hugo, author dear to Ousmane Sow, who had read to 16 years of age Bug Jargal, the story of a captain of Saint-Dominque, which sacrifices his life to save his slave. The young man sees up to four films a night at the cinema Corona. “When he has the means , he offers a place to sixty francs: there is no roof above the seats to thirty francs, and when it rains… The projectionist is cold, it steals a roll from time to time, so that there are holes in the scenario. But, as the film returns often to the same movies, there is always a neighbor to tell you about missing episodes”. It is a film that is itself Cinema Paradiso by Giuseppe Tornatore (1989).

The art of independence

Ousmane was seventeen years old when his father completes his pilgrimage to Mecca, tells the story of Jacques A. Bertrand. It incorporates a private school, and he comes out with a patent commercial. “The death of the father, four years later, is the first great rupture in his life, he said. He decides to leave, like many young Dakar. For Paris, of course. In Paris, he has a thousand francs in his pocket when he takes his first breakfast at Port Royal. The coffee growing costs five hundred francs, he leaves the rest as a tip. It is of its kind. Rather nothing at all than too little. After which, he entrusts himself to Providence.”

From 1957 to 1961, he lived in Paris for several small jobs and frequent of the students of the Beaux-Arts in that it does not recognize little. He temporarily abandoned sculpture. He completed his studies in nursing in the year when Senegal gained independence. He is very independent ever since. He starts to train as a physiotherapist. He wants to register to defend France, the woman he loves, at the time of the putsch of the generals in Algeria. But, when he had the choice, he opted for the senegalese nationality and he feels a duty to his country. It will be the first physiotherapist in Senegal. He deplored the fact that the anatomy is not taught at the Beaux-Arts. His works are the result of patient work and a long reflection on the human body. A body he did not hesitate to grind, distort, re-create, to bend to what he wants to express.


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