El Bachir Diouf (1991) is a visual artist from Dakar where he lives and works. A graduate of the National School of Arts Senegal.
With his collages of oil, pastel and acrylic paint Diouf creates alienating worlds where men and fish play the leading role. Diouf has had a fascination for the underwater world since childhood: ‘I watched documentaries and collected encyclopedias about marine life. In my work I represent forms of aquatic life, abstract or figurative. In the underwater world it is the same as on land, there are paradise places and moments but also bad places and events.
In Senegal we have an expression for someone who has a bad conscience: ‘he has a mind like a fish’. That inspired me to work with fish and sharks and other aggressive underwater animals. They symbolize selfish leaders and other people who are only after power and money and self-enrichment, often at the expense of others. I give them fish heads so that I don’t have to paint recognizable faces. These people are at the root of all the wrongs that afflict society.’
For ‘Let’s talk About Art !’ he created a series of paintings based on a concept called “Wakh xa Guiss” / ‘Saying what I see’ which speaks of the crisis of human values and also of the social inequality that reigns in the world. ‘I see more and more people participating in a kind of cannibalism: at all costs people want to enrich themselves, even if others have to be eliminated for it. Like a fish eats other fish. People continue to enrich themselves indefinitely. Take the government, those are really a bunch of sharks’
In the work Invasion, people stand-by as the selfish shark makes its bombastic entrance. One sees it happening but cannot do anything or does not want to do anything. I mix white and black people in my work, because the same thing happens all over the world.’ In ‘On the Dish’ we see how a dinner is made by the greatest chef in the world in the largest kitchen in the world. It’s the COVID-19 virus, it’s reaching us all. As ordinary citizens, we are just a small cog and we are used as puppets.‘
Diouf wants to draw attention as much as possible to the subject of self-enrichment and the associated loss of human values and norms to take care of each other. He sees it as his task to wake up his fellow Africans and to warn against the decadence of mankind, the decay of moral values. Diouf: ‘Children are also becoming increasingly disrespectful to the elderly and more selfish and arrogant. We have to do something.‘