Our Blog / Penney is an artist and designer living in Accra, Ghana.

Manel Ndoye allowed the DWG Art Committee a visit days before moving his tiny studio from Ouest Fiore, Dakar Senegal to his family home in Thies, Senegal.

large painting with the postcard grid

He shared with us that when he attended the university Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Dakar, he was required to select a primary theme for his work and he quickly chose the women from his ethnic group, the Lebou, and their traditional dance.  His painting continues to explore those themes. Manel told us a little about the background of the dances.  Fishing and farming are traditional occupations of this coastal tribe and the dances of the women are based on exaggerated motions of casting and bringing in nets, movements of the pirogues and farming.  The women wear matching boubou (dresses) with a section pinned up.  The custom of wearing matching boubous arose with the custom of polygamy.  The idea is that each wife should have the same dress so they are not jealous of one another.  The women wear 3-4 pagnes (skirts) to preserve modesty while they are dancing.  Because they are imitating men’s work they wear the men’s style of shoe. Manel takes artistic license with the dresses, changing the colors to suit his paintings.  The dances are done in lines of four to ten women, often more than one line dancing together.
Some of his paintings are made with postcards adhered to the canvas in a grid and then painted over.  His use of the postcard is symbolic; as postcards are used send messages the dance also conveys tradition and culture.  The postcards also break up the space of the painting, imitating the way looking through a fishing net changes how one sees what lies beyond.
Some of his paintings are based on photos but most are drawn and painted from memory and observation.
Recently, Manel has been working on collaborative efforts, such as his work with Barkinado Bocoum for the Collaboractions show and his painting with another artist as in this Figuro Abstro performance on Youtube.  This is new development as he generally tries not to be influenced by the work of other artists.

Manel will be exhibiting in France in February and March outside of Lyon with Alioune Diagne.

Penney Hughes

Designer, artist, world traveler and mother.

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