Interview // Saïdou Dicko

Posted by Julie Mathon on

On the occasion of the online exhibition "Dialogues, techniques mixtes sur papier" showcasing only works on paper, Afikaris proposes interviews of the artists on view. Today, Saïdou Dicko invites you to join him inside his imaginary world.

Saïdou Dicko, La branche, T Oumou, 2020

Saïdou Dicko, La branche, T Oumou, 2020, 26x32 cm

Watercolor painting on paper


How important is drawing in your work?

 I started to make art when I was 4 when I was a shepherd. I was fascinated by the imaginary. I was drawing the outlines of animals, water, and bushes. I started by making graffitis on the walls of my village. Then, I sewed and drew on the fabrics my mother traditionally embroidered. It is only a while after when I went to school in Ouagadougou that I started to draw.

Drawing is the basis of my work. I started drawing before starting photography, videos, and installations. My drawings don’t aim at preparing another work. They are artworks in themselves. They are the support of my first reflection.

 I have always been inspired by shadows as it can be spotted in my pictures. This exploration started with my drawings.

Your work is rooted in Peuhl culture, from which you come from.

 Exactly. Peuhl culture is part of my identity. Everything I learned, as socially as artistically speaking, comes from this culture. My childhood imaginary, directly rooted in Peuhl tradition, is the genesis of my work and the mother ship of my inspiration. For one moment in my life, my family and I were nomads.

When I was a boy, I used to keep goats, sheep, and cows. As children are taller than goats, I was driven to merely draw goats. As we are above them, we can have a more detailed look to draw them. At the opposite, cows are way too high to be completely perceived by a child. Animals are extremely important in Peulh culture. They are celebrated and healed. People are fed with their milk and meat, even if the meat is mainly eaten during celebrations.

Animals create the social link. They keep people close. It is the basis of nomadic life. 

You mainly use watercolor painting in your drawings. 

In the beginning, I used natural pigments that I was making myself from roots and earth that I mixed to water. This medium, which is hence very familiar to me, is very close to the way I use watercolor painting. 

I also use ink to create contrasts in my drawings. 

What does inspire you the most in your work?

Childhood is a great source of inspiration for me. I have the opportunity to travel, which ables me to mix different elements I pick up from all over the world.

My drawings also talk a lot about plastic that we see nowadays everywhere whatever the country we are in.

What I am interested in is the way that we can cleverly use plastic and how we can optimize its use. I don’t want to criticize this material. I think that not everything is black or white and this is about knowing how to reasonably use plastic. It is not about banning plastic and, instead, cut trees to make cardboard.

Some of my artworks feature secondary raw material. Ecology is particularly important in my work. In my country, we use to say “nature is aging” as we would say for men. Nature melts, dries, and sometimes resources are not sufficient.

What are your upcoming projects?

 Drawings lead me to explore other horizons and make me think about the possibilities offered to me and that I did not explore yet.

To stay in the theme of sustainability and ecology, I would like to mix fabrics and organic cotton from Burkina Faso with non-degradable plastic that I find in the street. The fabrics I use are traditionally made in Burkina Faso as well as Mali. They are handmade and embody both traditions and the concept of biodegradability.