|Malick Sidibé and Omar Victor Diop at galerie du jour agnès b. - L'Oeil de la Photographie|
|Galerie du jour agnès b. has just opened its first show of the year, with two exhibitions of three photographers work. The first is Studio portrait(s) with photographs by Malick Sidbé and Omar Victor Diop, and the second Night Porter & Sandy Hill by British photographer Chris Shaw.
To look at the other and to show yourself as you are or as you wish to be seen. The photographic portrait uses and amplifies one of paintings challenges. We first need to remember that portraiture was the first use of this new medium. Whether it be family portraits, new-born portraits, post-mortem portraits or formal portraits, cameras took over from the paint brushes and photography became the witness of these different times and social practices.
This is what we discover in the studio pictures of Malick Sidibé, Seydou Keïtas successor. Trained as a draftsman, he became a decorator at Gérard Guillats studio before opening his own workspace in Bamako in the early 1960s. He took pictures of the yé-yé generation, men on scooters and mischievous children, depicting a society in motion and particularly its youth. These pictures were intended for families: they were private photographs. Although he applies a different method, Omar Victor Diop is also an observer of our society. He has used systematic studio practices over the last ten years to position himself as a bridge between different times and different continents.
With his pop-style series entitled The Studio of Vanities, he again chooses to deal with the introspection of the model and the questioning of the photographer. Who is looking at whom? What do they show us?
Either the figure portrayed is supplanted by the photographer who seeks to impose the supremacy of his lust for power with a purely formal or aestheticizing approach, or the figure portrayed uses the photographer to create their own narcissistic image, at the risk of becoming the forger of his or her own life. *
With almost 50 years between them, Malick Sidibé and Omar Victor Diop both drive photography forward whilst educating the viewer about African photography. Whether it is the portrait of a stranger or a more famous personality, it opens a poetic window on this continent.