Back in France after a two-year stay in his native country, Ousmane Gueye is more than ever determined to finalize his Blue Forest. This project dear to the heart of the Senegalese sculptor should open its doors to visitors in 2021.
The Blue Forest, the project of a lifetime
A true gifted sculptor, Ousmane Gueye began working with stone at the age of 6. When he was only 10 years old, his creations exhibited at the 1966 Festival des Arts Nègres fascinated Léopold Sédar Senghor, then President of Senegal. The latter then awarded him a scholarship that allowed him to continue his training at the prestigious Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
In the 1980s, he had the idea of turning the 4 hectares of greenery surrounding his house in Soeurdres, in Maine-et-Loire, into a landscaped park where several means of artistic expression would converge. This artistic project, he named it La Forêt Bleue. However, he had to give it up for the time being because of a trip that would take him to the United States and then to Japan for more than 15 years. Unfortunately, during this time, the artist’s house was vandalized. Upon his return to France in 2007, he is therefore obliged to start the project from scratch.
For about 10 years, the sculptor will therefore work to revive his dream by planting trees again to grow a forest. With the help of 29 students from his region, he fine-tunes the details of his landscaped park and develops the business plan.
A new start after two years in Senegal
In 2018, Ousmane Gueye returns to Senegal. During his stay, he participates in the cultural life of the country through various activities. In particular, he was one of the great figures of Dark’Art 2018, the 13th edition of the Biennale of Contemporary African Art. Back in France in 2020, he finally wants to concretize the project of the blue forest and nature has helped him to do so. Today, the 4-hectare site is adorned with fruit trees, American oaks and several other species that will be able to accommodate his sculptures.
The Blue Forest, the first open-air museum of contemporary African art
During his stay in Senegal, Ousmane Gueye made 100 sculptures with the help of his apprentices. They will be transported to France in the coming weeks. Some of them will be sold in order to finance the purchase of the mechanical equipment necessary for the maintenance of the space. In the heart of the urban vegetation that he is moving in, the artist plans to install about twenty sculptures. Over time, other artists will also be able to come and exhibit their creations. Ousmane Gueye hopes to open the site to the public for the summer of 2021.
Ousmane Gueye would like to make the Blue Forest one of the main tourist sites of Anjou. In the long term, he aims to welcome 20 to 30 tourist coaches every day. A project that may seem crazy, but that the 64-year-old sculptor intends to make a reality. Former deputy of Maine-et-Loire appointed Minister of Culture in the first government of Jean Castex, Roselyne Bachelot, could be a major support to this effect.
In addition, the artist hopes to create, through the Blue Forest, an artistic partnership between Senegal and France. He dreams of seeing the Biennale take place in France in the year when there is none in Senegal. He also has the project to create another blue forest in Mont-Rolland, in the region of Thies in Senegal.
Some of Ousmane Gueye’s sculptures are currently exhibited at the golf of Champigné. The visit is free of charge.