Sunday, August 18, 2019

Omar Ba at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Omar Ba, Les autres [The Others], 2016
oil gouache and India ink on corrugated cardboard

Senegalese artist Omar Ba has a solo show at the MMFA, continuing until November 10, 2019.

I visited the show recently, and was intrigued and challenged by the large works. Often using a substrate of wood or corrugated cardboard, Ba typically lays down a matte black background that allows his colours to "pop".  His rich patterning recalls African textiles and ceramics. While it is clear that his paintings address political issues, his symbolism is somewhat enigmatic, which encourages a more thoughtful engagement with the imagery.

Omar Ba, Afrique Now, 2015
Oil, gouache and acrylic on corrugated cardboard

The posted text reads, in part:

"Bringing together many of Oma Ba's most important works to date, Same Dream lays bare the artist's profound critique of authoritarianism as well as his firm embrace of the resilience and perseverance of the human spirit. Representations of dictators and despots depicted as hybrid half-beasts are set in dialogue with paintings of youth and strong women that convey hope for the future. This duality in Ba's choice of subject matter underscores today's divided reality, precariously straddling development and destruction."

Omar Ba, Team, 2017
Oil, pencil, acrylic, India ink and gouache on
corrugated cardboard
"Omar Ba's work engages with some of the most urgent issues of our time: global inequality of wealth and power, immigration crises and our changing relationship to the natural world. His penchant for depicting personal narratives, alongside collective ones, speaks to the multivalent character of the work. Born in Senegal in 1977, Ba splits his time between Dakar, Senegal and Geneva, Switzerland, and synthesizes the visual textures of these places through his practice, which combines the historical and the contemporary, elements African and European....
"...Figures emerge from biomorphic forms and lush flora and fauna inspired by the dazzling coast of Senegal, where Ba grew up. Micro-worlds exist within larger constellations that evoke a shared cosmogony among humans, plants and animals." 

You can learn more about the artist and the exhibition here.

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