Despite globalizing trends, cities have largely avoided homogenization by maintaining unique characteristics even as certain aspects of urbanism feel familiar. For those who have visited a particular place before—say, Dakar, Chicago, or Amsterdam—just traveling through that urban environment can evoke physical memories of that city in particular, and other metropolises in general. From bustling avenues traveled by a mix of locals and foreigners, to quiet spaces tucked into seldom frequented corners, to lively marketplaces that operate as independent ecosystems, the city is an amalgam of sites and paraphernalia that accumulate as human experiences collide in a finite geography.
In a given metropolitan area, no individual passerby’s perspective fully encompasses the reality of a single object, place, or body they encounter. In this section, the artists explore the breadth and limits of individual perspectives, demonstrating how narrow, or attuned, the view can be. For some, like Fally Sene Sow, he dissects a cityscape as through a looking glass, offering the viewer a careful appreciation for the minutiae hidden from those of us who rely on glances. Incorporating elements from the city itself, he allows a panoply of textures to enliven and embody his collages of repurposed materials. The artist’s gaze extends to his hand; the tactility that comes from foil, shrubs, and soil of his environment gives the viewer a firsthand engagement with his lived experience.
Relying less on direct observation, painter Camara Guèye reflects on the accumulative nature of urban spaces like Dakar and fills his canvas with dozens of snippets. His works use select objects, architectural elements, and figures as surrogates for the crowded whole. Juxtaposing these metonymic references against each other, Guèye’s final composition achieves harmony in its color balance and silhouetted forms. Similarly relying on a few main characters to carry the scene, Ibrahima Dieye gives less emphasis to the buildings and objects as characterizing an urban environment, instead emphasizing its inhabitants. In addressing the necessity of community, Dieye’s characters find solidarity when facing physical and psychological strains together. The smaller narratives constructed by the frantic lines of his pen work in tandem with the foregrounded hybrid creatures to allude to the simultaneity of stories within a single community.
Fally Sene Sow
Header image: Ibrahima Dieye, Cry For Help 2, 2018, Bic pen, acrylic, collage, and pastels, paper on canvas, 140 cm x 130 cm
Image (within text): Fally Sene Sow (b. 1989, Dakar) Talibé dans le noir, 2018, collage on canvas, 70 cm x 80 cm