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Tag: Cultural and Creative Industries

Fally Sene Sow : a Unique View of Dakar’s Busiest Market

Fally Sene Sow
Fally Sene Sow

Artist Fally Sene Sow takes us soaring high above the city streets to give us a bird’s eye view of the action in Colobane, one of Dakar’s most popular markets. With his use of urban motifs and assortment of found objects, Sow’s intricate multimedia collages provide a modern take on the ancient Senegalese art of Sous-verre (‘under glass’ painting).

Mbaaru colobane
Mbaaru Colobane

Colobane – where Sow grew up and still lives – has become the city’s biggest flea market for clothing, books, electronics and a plethora of other new and second-hand items. The tonnes of used clothes from the West that find their way to Colobane each year have created a sector which employs over 24,000 people who work in the sorting, washing, repairing, trading and distribution of second hand garments and accessories.

Colobane Fëgg Jay Balba
Louma Colobane
Louma Colobane

There is a popular saying that “You can find anything in the world at Colobane Market” and just like the real market, anything and everything can be found in Sow’s collages: cut outs from photos and magazines, tin foil, pieces of string, scraps of fabric, chewing gum wrappers, and even tufts of sheep’s hair.

Tabaski Dakar 2015
Tabaski Dakar 2015

The elevated perspective takes us away from the traffic, smog and noise and shows us a beautiful, multi-coloured patchwork created by the market stall awnings and glittering zinc roofs. But everything looks fragile and delicate, reminding us of the physical frailty and impermanence of these ‘shops’ and the precarious livelihoods of the stall-holders themselves.

Nawétu colobane 2015
Nawétu Colobane 2015

Colobane, as with many other informal African markets, doesn’t have a legal basis for its existence; it could be forced to dismantle, move or close down at a moment’s notice. Sow’s portrayals of market life are not only visually striking but serve as documentation of an area, a community, and a way of life that although seemingly very rooted is, in reality, anything but.


If you’re in Senegal and interested in purchasing Sow’s work, email him at

If you live in Europe contact Gallery 23 for information: 

Watch a short video of Fally talking about his work here (in French).

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Mamadou Saadio Diallo : the Pop Art King of Ouakam

Petites boulots by Saadio
Petits boulots

With Les Petite Pierres, Amalion Publishing , The Art House and now Mamadou Saadio Diallo’s studio all within a small area, it seems Ouakam is fast becoming a creative hub in Dakar.

Saadio’s workspace sits slightly incongruously – yet also completely appropriately for someone adept at mixing up the signifiers of city life – amongst the tailors, bakeries, car part shops and Fataya sellers of Ouakam’s busy main street.

Mamadou Saadio Diallo, photo by Mamoudou Lamine Kane
Mamadou Saadio Diallo

Originally from Guinea, Saadio began his professional life as building painter. He only became an artist aged 32, after he met a well-known Senegalese artist who encouraged him to explore his medium in a different way.

Influenced by Jean-Michel Basquiat, he began creating unique visual patchworks of his urban environment and his African cultural origins.

His paintings capture the buzz  of Dakar’s street life using the motifs that can commonly be found all over the city: scooters and Car Rapides, stray dogs, hairdressers, taxis, street signs, graffiti, and Café Touba sellers.


The canvasses  fizz with exuberance, commotion and chaos, with everyone and everything jostling for space. You can almost hear the cacophony of city noises; the car horns and street-vendors, radios blaring, dogs barking, and cell phones beeping.

Au Salon du Coiffure
Au Salon du Coiffure
'Jazz pop art'
Jazz Pop Art

Saadio has recently begun experimenting with painting on furniture, some of which can be seen in a group exhibition at the British Council in Dakar until January 23d as part of the Partcours Art Festival. If you live outside Senegal and are interested in purchasing Saadios’ work, some pieces are available here.

Thank you to Mamoudou Lamine Kane for providing the photos for this post.


100% Dakar

100% Dakar, Sandra Krampelhuber’s documentary about Dakar’s thriving arts scene gives viewers an almost palpable sense of the energy that exists in the city.

Through interviews and sequences of the artists at work, we begin to understand the reasons for Dakar’s vitality and its creative boom, from the perspective of those who are at its forefront.

One of the main reasons Dakar has become a creative hub is the freedom that exists to create, something which cannot be taken for granted if we take into account some of the more authoritarian regimes that exist on the continent. As rapper Didier Awadi states:

“Freedom of expression is the key to understanding Dakar’s dynamism. It has always been this way. Under all [political] regimes you could express yourself, be critical. This is the power of Dakar. You can criticize and question everything.”

The new generation of creatives include fashion designers, musicians, graffiti artists, photographers, bloggers and dancers. They are hugely diverse in their backgrounds, aesthetics and aspirations but share some key commonalities; they are not looking to Europe or America for inspiration, but happily mining their own distinct urban environment – the crossroads and cultural melting pot that is Dakar – for their lyrics, images, themes and designs.

They are getting out there and creating, despite sometimes difficult circumstances and lack of institutional support.

They feed off each other’s ideas and energy, with the resulting collaborative work ethic creating a stronger and more unified presence.

Most importantly, they display a fierce passion and sense of ownership for what they have, a recognition that their city, their Dakar, has something to offer that is unique and cannot be found or replicated elsewhere.

Krampelhuber’s sensitive and non-intrusive style results in a real and authentic homage to the city that inspires the artists, and the artists who make the city come alive.

See the film’s website for more information and details of upcoming screenings.

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