With the arrival of his Nuba in the mid-1980s, Ousmane Sow reintroduced the soul into the body of the sculpture, and Africa at the heart of Europe.
One could be surprised that the African continent, so rich in its tradition of mask making, no longer seems to arouse sculptors' vocations today. This affirmation is strongly contradicted by a Senegalese sculptor who has shaped the powerful bodies of wrestlers, with their faces covered with colorful stripes of body paint. His name is Ousmane Sow.
Founder of ARC and curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris
There is something in his artwork that can only be called the unity of opposites: a complex and mysterious faculty that arouses one thing, and also its strong counterpart. And that is probably because Ousmane Sow opens his arms, his eyes, and his heart at one hundred eighty degrees.
With his 1989 Masai, in which the massive standing Warrior appears both as the guardian and the messenger, he irrevocably jeopardizes the announced death of sculpture.
Michelangelo expressed the human condition in the incompleteness, this contradiction between what weighs and what yearns, between what functions and what thinks. Rodin expressed it through the opposed movement, through what distorts. As for Ousmane Sow, he expresses it, beyond the perceived strength, through what sometimes pierces, through what is often guessed, through what is reflected.
The defeated American soldiers and the triumphant Indian warriors both display a specific expression in which defeat becomes a blessing.
Exhibition Commissioner « The American Effect » at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York
Going from one continent to another, Ousmane Sow pays a tribute to the ultimate warriors of the same sun, in his last and powerful creation. His art rediscovers an epic momentum that we thought was lost.
These faces and looks are so profound that sometimes our eyes turn away from them, unable to bear their intensity. An intensity that echoes a legacy of old suffering and reminds us how difficult living is but also expresses the energy and greatness of the man who, continues to fight for the love of life against all odds.
For the Senegalese, bronze is inconceivable without color, because it is its mask, its inner adornment.
Ousmane Sow brings a triumphant tenderness to his heartbreaking melody.
Directeur du musée national d’Art moderne et directeur du projet musélogique du musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac