Until November 15, 2023, Galerie Marion Chauvy presents a new selection of works by Soly Cissé entitled “Écosystèmes“. In this new exhibition, the Senegalese contemporary artist unveils five monumental works and several medium-format paintings in which he addresses, in a halo of color and distinct forms, the notions of nature inherent in the environment and the animal condition. He invites the public to take part in this immersive experience, where human nature and animals seem to come alive within a resilient and protective nature.
Born in Dakar in 1969, Soly Cissé has lived in France since 2018 and is one of the most influential artists of his generation, both nationally and internationally. A curious innovator, he constantly experiments and questions his art practice. This state of mind enables him to unveil a unique, multi-faceted art, and to update it in order to come ever closer to his artistic ideal. In his new series of mixed-media canvases, Soly Cissé calls for a new relationship between man and animal, through an updated vision of society. A society whose brutality he denounced in the Mondes perdue series “graphies griffées d’une humanité déchirée” (Lost Worlds: scratched graphics of a torn humanity) in 2004, in reference to Philippe Dagen‘s article in Le Monde on the Africa Remix exhibition.
In his artistic practice, he composes these canvases as metaphors for his associations with history and society. He explains: “My painting is far from being about identity. I’m a painter of the universe. My characters don’t belong to a well-defined culture. I try to create a world of métissage, where cultures rub up against each other and value each other“. The works in the “Ecosystèmes” exhibition were inspired by Soly Cissé’s personal and family history, factors that are at the root of his fusional relationship with nature in all its splendor, whose rightful inhabitant is the animal.
The contemporary artist has always explored vast territories, both conceptually and geographically, mainly on the African continent. The savannah and forests of Mali’s Senegal River basin are part of his childhood memories of his father, a doctor who spent three years supervising workers on the Manantali dam on the border between Senegal, Mauritania and Mali. Today, a town has sprung up in place of the German-made containers where he lived with his family. At the edge of the Bafing River and aboard precarious pirogues, the only way to get to school, he was in contact with animals, both domestic and wild.
Ecosystèmes I presents a disturbing visual overview, in which the canvas seems invaded by multiform vegetation. The perspective is such that the plants seem to overflow the surface of the painting, leaving an aura of life surrounding the work. The color tones used by Soly Cissé, from blue to yellow to green, lend harmony to the different forms of life that make up her creation. In a criss-cross of leaves, branches and flowering vines, animal and human silhouettes seem to merge. Through a composite chain of layers of oil and acrylic, the artist depicts a rhizomatic transmission, a notion that proves the resilience and capacity of the plant world to construct new strategies of existence.
His experience as a beach-boy on the beaches of Dakar enabled him to recognize man’s destructive power over the ocean world, and the importance of preserving it in its original state in order to leave a lasting legacy for future generations. His installations “Là où est la mer…” and “Manature“, among others, bear witness to the desolate reality in which we live. Working on both animal and human forms, Soly Cissé uses her art to give a voice to nature, inanimate matter that is nonetheless alive and indispensable to the continuity of a world. All her canvases represent metaphorical forms and social critiques, through which Soly Cissé communicates, in a sometimes satirical dimension, her thoughts on human nature, diffusing the common anxieties of our contemporary societies.