“Human Diffraction” exhibition by Serigne Ibrahima Dieye, at the Suquet des Artistes in Cannes

Until April 23, 2023, the Suquet des Artistes in Cannes is hosting the “Human Diffraction” exhibition dedicated to the artist Serigne Ibrahima Dieye from the young generation of painters from the National School of Arts in Dakar.

The characters in his paintings and installations are visual allegories of the evils that tear contemporary society apart: its myths and curses of success; its violence and creative dynamism; its popular tales and its forgotten territories. He observes his environment and is interested in the chaos that surrounds him. Thus, from his works emerge mystical symbols and hybrid animals which, like allegories, meet his urban daily life. Through strong sculptural gestures, the artist seeks to denounce this systemic violence, while trying to make everyone think about their share of responsibility and the role they can choose to play or not in this world.


Serigne Ibrahima Dieye, the smuggler of myths

According to Hesiod, a Greek poet of the 8th century BC. J.-C., author of the Theogony: “ The chimera blowing the invincible fire, Tall, terrible, swift-footed, terrifying, With three heads, one of a lioness with twinkling eyes, The other of a goat, and the other of a formidable serpent. »

Sergine Ibrahima Dieye challenges us with characters that are neither fully human nor fully animal. If at first sight they seem to be part of humanity, certain details exclude them. Here, a pointed beak acts as a mouth, there, sharp claws protrude from the arms, and again, colorful feathers adorn the body. These creatures seem to belong to a wonderful middle ground, somewhere between legends, fables and eternal myths. In fact, the creatures that are evolving on the artist’s canvases could be related to the Greek sirens who bewitched too reckless sailors, to the adlets who terrorized the Inuits in the far north, and even to the chupacabras who slaughtered herds of cattle. South Americans. From birds to reptiles via mammals or fish, all categories of the animal kingdom participate in these combinations. The assemblies are varied, disparate and always disturbing.


Thus, the differences in form are numerous, but these mythical monsters have one thing in common: if they challenge us, they do not disturb us, because they are present in all civilizations, in all cultures and in the myths transmitted on all the continents. Mixing the characters, they seem to have to create a link between the world of humans and the world of the gods. In the theogony proposed by Serigne Ibrahima Dieye, we find women with bird’s feet or rich coats, and men with shiny plumage, pointed beaks and sharp teeth. A gallery of characters imagined by the artist, colorful, creates a new mythology taking its place in the macabre history that preceded it.

The mystical creatures of the artist’s imagination defy the rules of our daily reality and raise multiple questions. Where do they come from ? Are they parallel time and space that humans cannot enter? What do they know of the past and the future? Are they on Earth to point out human limitations, are they those vindictive creatures who have come to condemn and punish the wrongs of our society?


If we look closely at the protagonists of Serigne Ibrahima Dieye’s work, it is possible to discover some keys to their intentions. Because, if a mythical figure can do good or even be funny, it is far from being alive under the hands of the artist.

Majestic, without joy or excess, they are closer to destructive monsters, carrying distrust and fear in their wake. The painter endowed them with an aura of power and fear, a bit like a contemporary harpy or sphinx. This is partly due to the way they are represented, whether they are majestic, inert and upright, or stopped in motion. The moments of tension are really numerous… a hand placed on a knee on the canvas Predatora raised arm of the character on the right in Resentment #2or these claws closed on a head in the work Media incompetence. The format of the works accentuates the size of the characters, intensifying the feeling of anguish diffused. In the tortuous and dark spaces of the Suquet of artists, the canvases, rarely less than 2 meters, leave ample time for these imposing figures to dominate those who look at them. These polymorphic creatures live for some time in the premises of the old Cannes morgue and give the site an impenetrable atmosphere.

The discomfort, even uneasiness, of the power of the protagonists in the paintings of Serigne Ibrahima Dieye is accentuated by the multiplication of the techniques he employs. Drawing, painting, style, ink or collage, as if seized by the need to go quickly, the artist seizes the tools at hand to create his eclectic pantheon.


The latter takes place in an uncertain and dark space, which reinforces the supernatural character of the creatures. Indeed, the black background common to all the canvases highlights the characters by providing them with additional luminosity while seeming to rush them out of the canvas. This dark space is not uniform, but intertwined with white threads like strange balls crossing the space and bringing out many elements from the darkness. A word that sometimes underlines the absurdity or the cruelty of the situation described. On some pieces you can see small anthropomorphisms or faces. Mere insignificant observers in the web Resentment #2who try to escape the vigilance of their guardians in the work Resentment #1making him pendant.

But is escape possible? Getting out of the confines of the web seems impossible. However, no beast is immortal, and many legends sing of heroes’ exploits against the monsters they dared to face. Like Bellerophon who defeated Chimera, Perseus who defeated Medusa or Beowulf who defeated Grendel, the creatures in Serigne Ibrahima Dieye’s paintings call out to those who can defeat them.

Especially since the attention they arouse is actually an alarm that must be taken into account. Because the feeling that grips us when looking at the work goes beyond the discomfort of facing the ignorance of the shapes of the characters, it comes from the underlying violence that emerges on the canvas and resonates with the contemporary world. Indeed, if these fantastic characters seem to come from a fictional kingdom, the myths created by the artist find their roots in the vices of modern society. Serigne Ibrahima Dieye, a young artist trained at the National Academy of Arts in Dakar, participates in the creative dynamics of an artistically turbulent city. As a keen observer, he noticed the flaws and divisions in his society. His works expose the cruelty of the contemporary world through a poetic veil. Corrupt media, sexual violence, religious tensions, his status as an artist allows him to be the voice of those who are neither heard nor listened to. But if the artist holds up a mirror of the society in which he lives, the problems he denounces are global. The themes he focuses on are both personal and general, so he touches on the universal. Thus, the biological origins of Serigne Ibrahima Dieye’s creatures are varied, but they all come from human construction.

Can humans defeat the monsters they created? The artist does not want to be defeatist or pompous, hope is always at the heart of his paintings. Indeed, by highlighting the ills and tensions of our society, it allows us to face them head on. So Serigne Ibrahima Dieye puts on the habit of a prophet, warning us against the monsters of our own creation and raising awareness to better fight them.

Practical information

“Human diffraction” exhibition of Serigne Ibrahima Dieye – until April 23, 2023

Suquet of the Artists / 7 rue Saint-Dizier 06400 Cannes / Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Andre Tirlet

Image credits

1/ Serigne Ibrahima Dieye, Dark scenery #2, 2022, Mixed technique on canvas, 50 x 65 cm.

2/ Serigne Ibrahima Dieye, Lost Values, 2021, Mixed media on canvas, 200 x 400 cm.

3/ Serigne Ibrahima Dieye, Jungle #4, 2022, Acrylic, ink, pastels on canvas, 90 x 120 cm.

4/ Serigne Ibrahima Dieye, Jungle #1, 2022, Acrylic, ink, pastels on canvas, 90 x 120 cm.

“Human Diffraction” exhibition by Serigne Ibrahima Dieye, at the Suquet des Artistes in Cannes – Luxe Infinity