THE PRINCE OF SHADOWS
In parallel of the publication with his eponymous monograph – The Prince of Shadows – the solo show devoted to Saïdou Dicko - from May 7th to June 7th, 2022 - bears witness to the multiplicity of the artist’s work through some twenty exclusive drawings, painted photographs and works on fabric.
You are entering the lands of the Prince of Shadows. His Kingdom isn’t ruled by any law except the one of listening to their eyes, led by their feelings. Saïdou Dicko’s works are like music. They unfold through the space and leave the visitors with control and freedom of interpretation. The words do not count but how the melody carries you along.
“That's also what's important to me. It's a big part of my job to listen to how people interpret and feel about my work. It's like music, there's no translation: you listen, you look and then there you go, no need for interpretation. That's how I define my little works, like visual music.”
Through painted photographs, drawings and works on fabric by Saïdou Dicko, the exhibition The Prince of Shadows mirrors the plurality of the artist’s work. It calls for the imagination and souvenirs of the visitors. If some questions arise, the viewers have to solve the mystery. Saïdou Dicko doesn’t hide any preconceived and universal solution. It is the viewers’ duty to project their personal feelings.
THE DOLLARS BOY STATUE, 2022
Who are these children who appear from one work to another? Where are they? What are they doing? It does not matter. Only creativity matters. Princes or sculptures, on their throne or traveling in business class, the malicious shadows inhabiting Dicko’s art play an infinite number of roles, echoing their unlimited inventiveness. They start their journey in a raw picture, take place within the virtual photo studio that the artist creates with his digital brushes, then settle down on the white sheet before landing among the embroideries the artist makes on a handmade fabric from Burkina Faso.
Through his artworks, the Prince of Shadows writes his legend. Whilst he turns his characters into shadows, they are the shadows that turned him into an artist while he was a young shepherd. Keeping his herds in the heat of the Sahel, these are the shadows of his animals that were appearing on the ground that pushed him to draw. By replicating them on the walls of the city and the embroideries of his mother, he appropriated them, until he tamed them later with his camera, and, then, gave them life with his brushes. Thus, Dicko offers them immortality. These shadows now live within each of us. They are wandering through our memories and are part of our future.
A Prince of Shadows, Dicko guide them from one work to another. While they meet from one medium to another, everything is linked: whether it is his childhood through the shadows, the references to the Peul culture and his mother's embroidery; or the reuse of materials.
Dicko’s drawings and works on fabric embody the necessity to reuse what already exists. He plays with materials. Plastic wastes become the substrate of his creations, as well as a source of life from which bouquets of flowers spring.
The painted photographs by Dicko echo the photo studios from his childhood. Whilst they made the fame of contemporary African photography with major works by Malick Sidibé, Samuel Fosso and Seydou Keïta, to only quote them, studio photography remains a family moment of sharing. Wearing their best clothes and adopting a spotless smile, they pose in front of a background made of graphical fabrics or views from abroad. Dicko remembers: “In these studios, we had the freedom to choose between several backgrounds: several drawn landscapes, in nature with wild animals, etc. We had posters with skyscrapers in New York. There were a lot of possibilities. So that is also what I try to share through my photos.”
If his work is like music, Saïdou Dicko is the maestro. He leads these shadows from his brush strokes and takes us with them to dreamland, on the tracks of our souvenirs.
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