El Hadji Sy, Silhouettes Critiques, 2022, Courtesy Galerie Barbara Thumm, Photo: Jens Ziehe
It is our great pleasure and honour to present the first solo exhibition entitled „Silhouettes Critiques“ by El Hadji Sy at the gallery in Berlin.
A supporting program and presentations in dialogue with the exhibition will take place in the gallery’s showroom in July. The details will be announced in the course of the exhibition. A performance by El Hadji Sy is planned for July. A publication on the occasion of the exhibition will be published by Distanz Verlag.
El Hadji Sy´s oeuvre is interdisciplinary, but he is also first and foremost a painter. He studied at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Dakar. As an antithesis to the Negritude philosophy of Senghor and the Dakar School, El Hadji Sy developed his performative painting style. By painting with his feet, El Hadji Sy acted against received art history as if against an authoritarian father. Trampling on a canvas, inflicting thumps with naked feet on an often abstract composition of colors, became a gesture of anarchy, both against a Western painting tradition as against the invented ‘Africanness.’ Since the mid-1980s, he has used jute rice sacks as a painting surface, on which he paints with various media such as oil, acrylic, tar and wax. The paintings hang on the ceiling, on the floor and on the wall.
„Silhouettes Critiques“ features new and specially created wall works, free-standing paintings and sculptures. To enter the exhibition, the viewer must literally enter the pictorial space by passing through the paintings, which are installed like revolving doors. In his exhibition, the artist-scenographer subverts the space and offers the visitor a choreography that they must circumvent and pass through in order to gain access. El Hadji Sy defies the institutional rule of „no touching“ in museums, which sanctifies the artwork and imposes a distanced and contemplative relationship on the visitor.