La Kunsthalle Mulhouse presents Omar Ba’s solo exhibition, ‘Destins Communs’ – a comprehensive overview of the artist’s recent body of work featuring a site-specific installation.
Omar Ba, Shadow 2, 2021. Oil, acrylic, Chinese ink on cardboard, 241 x 160cm. © Private Collections. Courtesy Wilde
Ba’s paintings, distinguished by their captivating black backgrounds and vibrant hues, delve into a narrative-rich tradition and intricate history of modern Africa, tackling political and social concerns. His work offers viewers a profound reflection on our shared destinies, inviting us into his ontological world where past and future intertwine.
Educated in Senegal and then in Swiss Romandy, Omar Ba is a painter first and foremost, although sculpture, drawing and photography also find their place in his work. The first element that we notice in his paintings is the black background from which the colours of his half-dreamlike, half-realistic scenes spring forth. We also remark how the lightness of his brushstrokes makes any material he depicts seem like a plant fragment, whether real or imaginary. Petals, feathers, leaves, stems and other elements borrowed from nature are placed on the canvas in a lively manner that creates enormous textural variety. The artist continually reinvents his range of motifs. Both canvas and cardboard surfaces provide him with a depth of space, each millimeter of which he fills in to tell the stories that make up his vision of the world. A child of Africa trained in storytelling, the image he builds is faithful to the tradition of emotionally powerful and philosophical narratives. His paintings hold both the power of the unreal and the weight of fact. Behind the bright effusion of colour, Ba’s figures and scenes are drawn straight from a history marked by a plethora of political and social issues. Behind the camouflage of each painting lies the complex, wounded, and moving image of contemporary Africa that he shares without reservation as his art exerts its seductive power on the viewer.
The artist’s strength lies in this accessibility, in laying the reality of Africa before the public’s eyes and questioning our “shared destinies” through allegory and metaphor. In Omar Ba’s ontological world, we are all bound together from past to future, giving his paintings universal value.
The exhibition will be on view from the 9th of June until the 29th of October, 2023. For more information, please visit La Kunsthalle Mulhouse.