The Jean Pigozzi African Art Collection

Mor Faye

Mor Faye, born in 1947 in Dakar (Senegal) where he died in 1984

Mor Faye, a prolific and talented artist whose legacy includes nearly 800 paintings, graduated from the Dakar Fine Arts School in 1964. He was one of the figures of the Dakar school that emerged in the early 1960s. At barely nineteen years old, he was selected along with a dozen other artists to represent Senegal at the First World Festival of Negro Arts. Nine years after his death in 1993, he represented his native country again posthumously at the Venice Biennale. Like most other members of the Dakar school, Mor Faye absorbed the concept of negritude developed by the poet, theorist and President Léopold Sédar Senghor. His art reveals reality on several levels, transforming it, always seeking to give priority to the representation of an ideal. As Souleymane Bachir Diagne, a close acquaint- ance, has pointed out, negritude is not “an essence,” but “an existence.” It is a phenomenon that is always “unpredictable, a force that contin- ually emerges, the insurrection of a vital impulse.” Mor Faye liberated and enriched contempo- rary thinking in Africa, working as an educator during the day and devoting his nights to intense personal work. Suffering from cerebral malaria, he died at the age of thirty-seven after spending his last years in a psychiatric hospital. In refer- ence to this painful period, his friend Issa Samba has written, “[...] we see him descending into a well of colour as if he wanted to blend into it.”