Mamady Seydi - portrait

Mamady Seydi /   Mamady Seydy

Senegal 1970


Mamady Seydi
Mamady Seydy
May 1, 2016
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Proverbs could be summarized as the people’s wisdom. A good portion of them originates from another time, but strangely, they are almost universally applicable. Mamady Seydi, a Senegalese artist, seeks inspiration in them, hoping to turn the words into something that is more visual and easily understood. He creates a mirrored society, where exists the absolute need for fighting against evil, injustice, and human stupidity, which often is the cause of problems. The artist assumes the role of a teacher, speaking through his art, sending clear messages and teaching about morality. He vividly shows the viewers the concepts of selfishness, beauty, fall, loneliness…

Mamady Seydi - Kumpa Dafay Walle - The Curiosity Is Contagious, 2015
Mamady Seydi – Kumpa Dafay Walle – The Curiosity Is Contagious, 2015, photo credits Galerie Galea

African Alice in Wonderland

Proverbs are certainly at the top of Seydi’s sources of inspiration. There is also the Senegalese literature and the book titled Leuk the Hare, written by Abdoulaye Sadji and Léopold Sédar Senghor, who was the Senegal’s first President. It’s a collection of folk tales and initiation stories, and the writer’s intention was to teach French to young Senegalese students while imparting a sense of African tradition and culture, and it was a kind of a satire of society. Seydi admitted he found inspiration between the two absolutes, one being the rebellion without the future, and the second being the acceptance of the foreign rule. His childhood imaginations and dreams are also externalized through his sculpture, altogether creating a dreamlike African world that is relatable to European Alice in Wonderland.

Proverbs, Senegalese literature and childhood memories are the most important sources of inspiration

Mamady Seydi - Untitled #1 (From the series Ce qu’on n’ a pas obtenu en léchant, on ne l’aura pas par la morsure)
Mamady Seydi – Untitled #1 (From the series Ce qu’on n’ a pas obtenu en léchant, on ne l’aura pas par la morsure), photo credits

The Awards and Shows

Seydi was born in Dakar, lives in Mbour, but has set up his workshop in Nguékhokh. He graduated from l’école nationale des arts, Dakar, in 1997. In 2000, during the Dak’Art, he won the Prix de l’Agence Intergouvernementale de la Francophonie, and in 2000, 2002 and 2006 he also won the Prix de l’ART OMI International USA. His artworks were included in many exhibitions throughout Senegal, but also in Paris, and he had several very successful solo shows. In 2015, he and his fellow artist Cheikh Keita had the two-man show titled Palaver, which contained paintings and sculptures reflecting life in all of its diversity.

The artist uses wood, cloth, paper, rusty iron in order to make brown tones that evoke the length and duration as proverbs

Mamady Seydi - Untitled #2 (From the series Ce qu’on n’ a pas obtenu en léchant, on ne l’aura pas par la morsure)
Mamady Seydi – Untitled #2 (From the series Ce qu’on n’ a pas obtenu en léchant, on ne l’aura pas par la morsure), photo credits

The Teacher

The artist created this mirrored society, where he emphasizes the need for doing good and fighting the evil, injustice, and human stupidity. His sculptures are hybrids of animals and humans but retain just enough of their original characteristics. They teach about loneliness, beauty, selfishness, rise and fall, ferocity, overwhelming power, dependency. He’s inspired by the Senegalese proverbs, but he doesn’t simply illustrate them. The artworks are rather inventions, and their task is to contribute to the moral education of the society.

He is represented by Galerie Galea in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.

Mamady Saydi lives in Mbour and works in Nguékhokh.

Featured image: Mamady Seydi – portrait, photo credits

All images used for illustrative purposes only

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015Palabres with Cheikh KeitaGalerie Arte, DakarGroup
2014Le ToukoukeurDak'art offSolo
2014Comptoir du fleuve N° 1, Grain de folies, Dak'art offSaint-LouisGroup
2014Workshop, Sénégal - BéninSaint-LouisGroup
2014Salon international de la sculpture Africaine, Dak'art inDakarGroup
2013Le fleuve en couleurs Festival d'art contemporain à Saint-Louis du SénégalSenegal Group
2012Biennale, Exposition Internationale, Dak'Art 2012DakarGroup
2010Le Temps de l'AfriqueHotel de l'industrie, place Saint Germain des Prés Paris 6°Group
2009UnknownAnimal Anima Fondation Jean Paul BlachereGroup
2009UnknownWorld bank main complex Washington, D.C., USA Group
2007Contact ZoneMusée National de BamakoGroup
2006Biennale, Exposition Internationale, Dak'ArtDakarGroup
2005ManègeGalerie le de l'institut Français, DakarGroup
2004Dak'Art 2004, Biennale off, TOTALSénégalGroup
2003UnknownRésidence Ambassade France, DakarGroup
2003La Java du Point EPoint E, DakarGroup
2003Salon National des Artistes Plasticiens SénégalaisGalerie Nationale, Dakar Group
2002Théâtre Mohamed 5 (Festival Mawazzine 2002)Rabat, MarocSolo
2002UnknownCentre Culturel Français de DakarGroup
2002UnknownFougerolle, Dakar:Group
2002Biennale, Exposition Internationale, Dak'ArtDakarGroup
2001Mamady SeydiGalerie du Centre Municipal Jean GAGNANT, LimogesSolo
2001Mamady SeydiGalerie Cargo 21, ParisSolo
2001Semaine SénégalaiseAlliance Française, Paris Group
2000Lauréat du prix de l'AIFBiennale de l'Art Contemporain de DakarGroup
2000Espace, un artiste, une œuvre, une carteRestaurant le NIANIGroup
1999Wolof Njaay neena…Centre Culturel Français de DakarSolo
1999Wolof Njaay neena…Galerie ATISS, DakarSolo
1998Anniversaire, Artiste RéunisMusée de l'IFAN, DakarGroup