Artist's portrait: Ibrahima Gningue, women and culture at the heart of his works.

Costumes and accessories playing a central role in the works of this senegalese artist, we wanted to know more about his artistic approach.

What is this "women and costumes" theme for?

Originally from the Lebou* community, I decided to devote myself to the attire of Lebou* women (clothing and accessories) during the Ndawrabine and Goumbé dance.

Lebou culture is rich in festivities such as Ndawrabine and Goumbé, the main dances during ceremonies and rituals of the community. It is a form of procession accompanied by a choreography in which young people, often belonging to the same generation, mingle. Women line up in two to three columns with a whole body movement forward. Demonstration in this video...

The choreography is obviously important, but the outfit and the accessories are the most aesthetic elements. The women wear two large Boubous in different shades of colors that fly with the movements of the body. Regarding accessories, the women wear traditional pearl pendant necklaces of different colors, necklaces of gold and silver materials, called libidor, they also wear jewelry, called Diibé in two shades of red and yellow.

As an artist I add my own touch by integrating objects from the sea such as seashells or others, to show the relationship that exists between the sea and the Lebou people.

Why did you paint the faces white and without details?

The faces painted in white are a continuation of my work at the Dakar School of Arts. For my final exam, I was working on Tadjabone which is a typically Senegalese carnival, rich in movement and color. It is a folk festival celebrated mainly by young people in Senegal, during Tamxarit (Achoura).

During this carnival, girls dress up as boys and boys as girls. Everyone uses white charcoal ash or white powder to make up their face. They then roam the streets singing and dancing, going around houses asking for gifts and in return receive food or money. It is therefore an extension of my work with a nod to this local tradition.

How do you work on the harmony of colors?

For the harmonization of colors, my personal feelings come into play and the combinations quite often arrive instinctively. However, in the realization of a work, I always seek the balance between the colors but also a contrast and a kind of energy to have an aesthetic final result. The color scheme is clearly an important step.

How long does it take you to make a painting?

To make a painting, the time depends on the size of the canvas and the painting technique I use. For example, the flat technique, which is not the easiest to perform, will take a little more time than another. It is therefore difficult for me to give a fixed duration but if I work day and night, I can make a painting in 15 days. Generally, the completion time can vary between 15 and 30 days.

* Lebous

This community which is dear to me is traditionally made up of fishermen but also of farmers. It is concentrated in the peninsula of Cape Verde (Dakar) which they already occupied when the first settlers arrived in the region. They speak Wolof ((language mainly spoken in Senegal) since the origins. They are now predominantly Muslim but have retained practices from their traditional religion.


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