• Can you introduce yourself?
I am Omar Ba. I am an artist. I was born in 1977 in a Serer village located 150 km from Dakar in the Fatick region.
I have been living in Switzerland since 2003. I have been living off my art for 6 years.
I work with 4 galleries located in Paris, Brussels, Milan and London.
Why do I live in Geneva? This is actually a chance. While I was finishing my School “Ecole des Beaux Arts de Dakar“ in 2003, I met a Swiss artist who was also a professor at “Ecole Beaux Arts” in Geneva. He was in Dakar for the realization of a mural painting in the house of culture Douta Seck. I participated in this work and we became friends.
He offered me to continue my education in Switzerland, and I agreed.
• Why did you choose this profession?
I did not choose art. When I was in Senegal, I have held several activities to earn my living and it has always brought me back to art. I have conducted workshops, I have worked in the decoration and in the end there was always a connection with creation.
In fact, creating is the only thing I know how to do.
• What is your background?
I studied until high school and then I joined the School “les Beaux Arts” in Dakar for five years where I got my degree. I then opened a workshop for artists. At that time I was also exposing in a few galleries in Dakar.
In 2003, I participated to a one-month symposium in Bonn on color language, with six other Senegalese artists. Enriched with this learning, I returned to Dakar, where I had the chance to participate in a solo exhibition. It was during this period that I met this teacher Switzerland I mentioned earlier.
So I flew to Geneva to study. I obtained a postgraduate degree that is the equivalent to a master. I alternated until 2011 studies and employment. I taught art classes in schools. It’s from 2011 that galleries became interested in my art.
• Does your relatives have always supported in your choice?
Seeing me draw all the time, knowing that I had an artistic streak reassured my parents in the sense that I was between school and home. My friends were always going out, but I stayed at home to draw and create.
But from the moment I decided to stop the traditional school curriculum to integrate the school of “les Beaux Arts”, they were reluctant. They thought I could not live off my art. I was so determinated that my mother finally supported me throughout my artistic studies, particularly financially. Today she is very happy and proud of my success
• What reflect your works?
My works evolve along with me.
I paint to exist as a human on earth. I feel I have a role to play and thus the art allows me to express myself and say what I think.
The art also allows me to react to a situation that touches me directly or indirectly.
My works reflect the people I am surrounded by. It also talks about me.
It can talk about the global geopolitical situation or the Africa’s story through its past, its relations with the West or the Arab world.
My inspiration also comes from my culture and my traditions such as games I was playing as a child.
• When you start a creation, do you have a clear idea of what you want?
When I start a painting, I do not know at all what will it be. I can define the shapes I want to appear, then I’m in the search until I reach the final work. Only then, I am able to give a title.
Each creation is a real research work for a long or a shorter time. For example, I have several paintings I have begun for 4 years. If I am blocked, I am saving it until the inspiration comes back; I prefer to take a break.
• What is the step you prefer in term of creation?
The two steps that I prefer are: when I touch the soul of the painting, it is the time I’m sure I’m on track. This can be from the beginning, when I put all the elements on the right track. I am so happy and satisfied.
The second things that I appreciate is when the painting is finished, it’s a sense of relief.
• What is your particularity?
One of my characteristics is that I paint on cardboard even if I also happen to paint on canvas and paper.
I always start painting with a black background, it’s different from most painters who use the white. Personally, I see better in black. I then add the light.
- Which of your creations do you like the most?
I love them all because each is directly related to my story. Everything I lived is important so all my work is important.
• Where do you work?
In Dakar, I built a studio in my house. But mostly I am in Geneva. I have a home in which I do not go often because I spend most of my time in my studio where I built a rest area.
Sometimes I start a painting in Geneva and finish in Dakar or the reverse.
• What is the ideal environment for you to be able to exercise your job well?
This is undoubtedly in my studio, I feel safe, I know the environment and somewhere I feel reassured.
• Are you involved in associations, groups, collectives with other artists?
I am not part of any association but I can participate in meetings or seminars. I’m kind of a lonely person.
• Are you interested in other art forms and other forms of culture?
I am very curious and eager to open up and discover art form.
I love everything related to the trade of wood.
• What are your current projects?
I am currently preparing a fair with my galleries in Dallas and some exhibitions in Paris.