This week, we invite you to discover the work of Saïdou Dicko, his career and his concerns. We also happy to reveal to you some of his latest watercolour creations.
L.A.G.: You grew up in Déou, Burkina Faso, where you were a shepherd during your childhood. When and how did you decide to become an artist?
S.D.: Yes, I spent my early childhood in Déou which is located in the north of Burkina Faso. Like many people there, I was a shepherd. I was fascinated by the beauty of the landscapes of the Sahel and I think that my sensitivity as an artist has been developed at that time. My wish was to share this beauty. Drawing also gave me a lot of joy and that's how I started to draw on the ground with my shepherd's crook, the shadows of the shrubs and those of my animals at first. Then I continued to draw with charcoal on the walls and then on fabrics that my mother would embroider until I left for Ouaga when I was nine years old.
In the big city, Ouaga, I continued to paint by making my own pigments from the leaves and roots of trees.
L.A.G.: After growing up in Burkina Faso, you lived in Senegal before moving to Paris. Even today, your work still represents Africa. How does this continent continue to nourish and influence you?
S.D.: I moved to Dakar as a young man and lived there for five years before moving to Paris in 2009. Africa is present in my works, yes. It never ceases to influence me. I was born there, I grew up there and it is part of my DNA. The Sahel in particular. I like to pay tribute to it through my work.
However, I do not forget that I have had the chance to travel on several continents; in the United States, in Asia and even as far as Oceania on the other side of the world. In Europe as well... All these travels are present in my work in the same way as Africa and it is not uncommon for my characters to find themselves transported to the great megalopolises of New York, Tokyo or Sydney.
L.A.G.: You are often presented as a photographer, however, your artistic practice also includes drawing and video. How would you define yourself and what are the themes you develop through these different mediums?
S.D. : I am introduced as a photographer because my work was discovered during a photo exhibition in the off of Dak'art in 2006. If it is true that I practice photography regularly, my first artistic gestures were pictorial, using charcoal and natural pigments. It is later, in Ouagadougou and Dakar that I started to use other mediums such as photography, video or installation.
I define myself as a visual artist. I use my camera like the painter uses his brush.
Several themes fascinate me. Among them is the human, the sharing and nature which for me are at the heart of everything. The threads are the hombre and the childlike imagination which constantly send me back to my roots as a young shepherd, to the Sahel.
L.A.G.: Your best known series is The shadowed people which we present at the gallery. It develops around the shadows. Can you tell us more about it?
S.D.: The Shadowed People is the sequel to The Shadow Thief series. In this first series, I photographed only the shadows letting the viewer create the story. Today, in this new series presented in the gallery, I photograph characters that I transform into shadows by applying black paint on their bodies. It's a way of merging photography and painting, to make each photo a unique work.
L.A.G.: You continue to decline this same series by personalizing it by adding black paint, thus creating unique pieces for each of the shots. What does the addition of paint mean to you? How did you come up with the idea?
S.D. : Let's not forget that it was painting that brought me to photography and then this photography practice took up a lot of space. So the idea came to me to paint on the photos to make the two cohabit.
More recently, painting on my photos brought me back to drawing and gave birth to a new series named The drawings Shadowed People. Theseare a series of ink and watercolour on paper, which the theme once again draws on my childhood memories.
L.G.A. : Your work has a very strong visual identity with a sense of colour and balance that characterizes your work. You bring to each of your images a poetic touch while the subjects are sometimes difficult to deal with. Where does this tender look at man and children in particular come from? How does it inspire you?
S.D.: In my work I try to share the joy and beauty that surrounds us. I attempt to see beauty in all things, as much in difficult subjects as in the simple gestures of everyday life or in children's games.
My look is the one of a happy child and that is why children play an important role in my work. Children reflect joy, carelessness, curiosity, so many feelings that are for me the definition of a fulfilled human being.
L.A.G.: Are you aware that you sublimate everything you look at?
S.D.: No, not at all.
L.A.G.: Can you share with us some of your upcoming projects?
S.D.: In the future I will continue to work on the drawings of the The Drawings Shadowed People. For the moment, still with watercolour on paper. Later I would like to experiment with plastics on cotton fabric woven entirely by hand. This is a project that I have had in me for a long time in the drawers of my studio and that will finally see the light very soon. The idea that animates me here is to mix opposites, hand-made cotton weaving according to ancestral techniques and bags.
To go further
The magazine "La croix l'hebdo" has devoted a special report to him to discover here.