From March 6th to May 8th 2021 André Magnin hands Omar Victor Diop the reins of the gallery for an exhibition dedicated to the great African portraitists.
Heir from the African photography studio – whose codes are sometimes reinvested in his self-portrait – Omar Victor Diop selected for this Carte Blanche about fifty pictures from the photographers who influenced him. Mama Casset, Seydou Keiïta, Malick Sidibé, J.D.’Okhai Ojeikere, Jean Depara and Ambroise Ngaimoko (Studio 3Z/3C) encounter Omar Victor Diop’s dreamlike and colorful images. Through this journey made with historical pictures, the exhibition “HERITAGE” weaves the links between Omar Victor Diop’s work and his artistic legacy.
The artist retains Jean Depara’s buzzing night outside Leopoldville during the independence years of the former country known as Belgian Congo. He also retains Ojeikere’s hairstyles whose memory work leaves him admiring.
Thereby Omar Victor Diop belongs to an African continent aware of its elders’ savoir-faire. He is also attached to an Africa in motion, full of hope and energy.
Among these reference photographers, it’s probably Malick Sidibé’s work that echoes the most Diop’s approach. The fifty years between them are reduced by a shared impetus to continue the African photography studio’s tradition, and to show modern life’s trends, vitalities and evolutions. “Malick Sidibé shoots moments of truth, solemnity and dreams. He builds a mosaic made of little stories that tangle together and melt into a single one – the story of his people. One day, I would like to hear those words about my work. To that extent, Malick Sidibé is a model” comments Omar Victor Diop.
Sidibé’s masters are also those of Diop. He admires Keïta’s observations on Malian society, and Mama Casset at whose place Diop’s grandfather made his portrait. Omar Victor Diop grew up in this atmosphere of the studio that has constantly nurtures his research. According to the photographer’s style, portraits and staging differ. Sidibé’s refined style is in contradiction with Diop’s more prolific portraits, but from the yéyé to the pop culture, each generation leaves to the next a precise and smart look on African beauty Omar Victor Diop’s choices honor this portrait’s art that glorifies a dynamical continent: from Mali in the sixties to contemporary Senegal, from black and white to colors. The photographers become the ambassadors of a vibrant Africa: ancestral and modern fabrics, emancipated and optimistic youth, male and female’s gentry…
With this Carte Blanche, André Magnin wants to “give the floor to the artists” and considers that “to promote contemporary African art means recognizing and valorizing talented artists”. Key moment of this early year 2021, “HERITAGE” highlights collections which are rarely under the spotlight. Historical works of art are reunited for the first time in order to show African photography’s vitality and beauty, whose great figures have been revealed by André Magnin since 1991. 30 years!