Omar Ba was born in 1977 in a Serer village located 150 km from Dakar in the Fatick region of Senegal. He was trained at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Dakar and the École des Beaux-Arts de Genève. The artist lives and works between Dakar, Senegal, and Geneva, Switzerland.
Ba’s work engages with some of the most urgent issues of our time: the growing inequality of wealth and power globally, questions around immigration, and our changing relationship with the natural world. Ba regularly draws from and intertwines a range of elements from African and European cultures, as well as the techniques and tools he employs, including corrugated cardboard and canvas, paintbrushes and his hands. He prepares his surfaces – whether cardboard, canvas or wall – with a black ground, upon which he layers a vivid palette dominated by primary colours. The paintings teem with details as micro-worlds exist within larger constellations, oscillating between bold planes of colour and intricate outlines. Largely symbolic, the figures and forms portrayed refer not to specific individuals, but are open to universal narratives.
The artist’s latest paintings depict dictators and authority figures who lead corrupt and violent regimes across the African continent. Represented as beasts – part human, part animal – these despotic warlords are typically enveloped in an abundance of lush flora and fauna. The world of Ba’s painting is a hybrid one, ultimately evoking a shared cosmogony between humans, plants, and animals.
In recent years, Ba has participated in numerous international group exhibitions, the most recent being the Summer Exhibition 2014 at the Royal Academy of Arts (London) and the Dakar Biennale in 2014. His works have been included in several public collections, including those of the Centre National des Arts Plastiques (CNAP) in France, the Swiss National Collection (Basel) and the Louvre in Abu Dhabi.