Senegalese visual artist Ndoye Douts is dead

Ndoye Douts, Senegalese visual artist, died on June 9 in Dakar, at the age of 50. The artistic community mourns this cheerful, generous and prolific figure.

Ndoye Douts, Senegalese visual artist, died on June 9, 2023, in Dakar. © Christian Lajoumard

Text by: Sabine Cessou Follow


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There was gravity behind the apparent naivety and childish trait cultivated by Ndoye Douts, a Senegalese visual artist who died at the age of 50, in the prime of his life. Graduating first in his class in 1999 from the National School of Fine Arts of Senegal, he was already, at the beginning, passionate about the "architectural disorder" of his city, Dakar. His installations have often been part of the official program of the Dakar Biennale (Dak'Art), with series of drawings reflecting his city – and by extension, the intensely urban character of the continent.

Recently returned from Japan, where he had exhibited for a month, he said he was tired, testifies his friend Olivier Sultan, boss of the Art-Z Gallery, who has repeatedly hung his works in Paris: "The works of Douts perfectly reflected Dakar, whether it was his paintings, drawings or animated films: he showed the permanent bubbling and energy of his city, the presence of the crowd, with a very particular way at the plastic level of putting everything on the same level: the sea, the canoes, the cars, the buildings and the people – a real urban kaleidoscope".

A generous personality

Originally from a powerful ethnic group of fishermen in Dakar, the artist inscribed this word, "lébou", on his canvases, marked by the omnipresence of fish and boats. "The scarcity of fish explained the phenomenon of migrants leaving in canoes, a journey from which many have never returned," continues Olivier Sultan. He touched on profound subjects, even if he was always cheerful and cheerful. He also had a rare generosity in contacts: he wore the clothes of his friend Cheikha Sigil, whose workshop he had made his headquarters in Dakar, to make him better known. And he didn't hesitate to take you to see other creators... ».

Senegalese photographer Mabeye Deme, a big fan of Ndoye Douts' work, evokes a shock when he saw him for the first time, years ago, at the Blachère Foundation. "Suddenly, there was a line on the canvas, and then Dakar drawn underneath, with large taxis, small lampposts, very small characters. A real reading of Dakar: he pointed out the dysfunctions with traffic and pollution, but also the marching order, life."

The bubbling Dakar of Ndoye Douts

The photographer can no longer see the traffic jams in Colobane without the paintings of Douts, whose strength of proposal he compares to that of Djibril Diop Mambéty, a filmmaker who died in 1998. "The places in Dakar filmed by Djibril Diop Mambéty also have this effect on me, I see them through his eyes." He also mentions the generosity of Douts, "who was of all the families of artists, we saw him in the photographer Antoine Tempé, in the Medina, in the city center, while in Dakar, relations can be fractured".

French director Christian Lajoumard, author in 2020 of a 15-minute documentary on Ndoye Douts, evokes one of the "most pleasant and sympathetic artists" with whom he has been given to film. "He loved stylists, changed clothes all the time, it looked like a bouquet of flowers all the time. He was very attached to his neighborhood, the Gueule Tapée, and we often went to Soumbedioune to see the sea, a place whose buildings he drew a lot in very colorful, touching canvases. Ndoye Douts is "gone", as they say at home. His works remain, witnesses of this incompressible freedom of gaze that makes the mark of Dakar.

Major of his class in 1999, his research theme was "Popular neighborhoods in their architectural disorder – subject accumulation". And in fact, the city "in all its forms" is the main source of inspiration for this talented colorist. pic.twitter.com/ffDC9eK1lR

— Aisha Deme (@DemeAisha) April 26, 2020

>> READ ALSO: The painter Ndoye Douts takes the pulse of the neighborhoods of Dakar

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