Home Magazine Childhood, origins and shadows: the primary sources of inspiration for Saïdou Dicko

Saïdou Dicko is a visionary artist who, through different mediums, realizes evocative artworks, which bring the viewer into a deep intrinsic voyage. His contemporary artistic sensibility is based on his origins, his childhood and his land, which are a reason for pride for the artist himself.

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A visionary artist who is appreciated in "the realm of contemporary art and whose awe-inspiring artworks captivated audiences worldwide", is Saïdou Dicko. Born in 1979, he is a self-taught visual artist with African origins, which represent his essential source of inspiration for his art.Saïdou Dicko is a Faluni Sheperd (a large ethnic group native to Nubia), who learnt to draw at the age of five, by collecting shadows of his sheep on the Sahel soils.

The shadows have always been the core element of his visual storytelling, because they awakened in him the desire to make art by seeking to transcribe it graphically. He likes the shadows, because they are neutral and fascinating. In fact, the crucial moment which inspired him to become an artist was when, as a shepherd, he was watching the shadows of his flock being drawn on the ground.

Saïdou Dicko. OPERA ACT 1 LUANDA, 2022. Courtesy of ARTCO Gallery

The shadow is present in all of his work, as it is shown by the series “The Shadow Thief” (2014) and “The Shadowed People” (2018). However, while in the early series of works, the alienation of broken silhouettes’ perspectives brings the viewer closer to the intimate gestures of the characters depicted, in his latest artworks Saïdou Dicko has adopted a more abstracted style, in order to draw the attention to the social context of the scene depicted. The figures in the photographs are transformed into shadows by dipping them in thick black oil. Moreover, the concept of the individual is broken down, since the artist anonymizes and democratizes the characters, removing any possible societal indicators, and the background is emphasized by colorful textile.

Saïdou Dicko’s works, as paintings, photographs and drawings, display a sense of nostalgia. His works are evocative, because they lead the viewer to introspective own voyages. His art is a tribute to his origins and his childhood and he keeps finding inspiration and evolving his style, thanks to his travels and his experiences.

Saïdou Dicko. THE DLEU BOY ACT 1, 2022. Courtesy of ARTCO Gallery

Furthermore, children are present in many of his artworks and they are often the main subject. According to the artist, they are really relevant in his work, because they reflect the joy, carelessness, curiosity and sharing, and they are our past, our present and our future.

Thanks to his art and the message transmitted through his artworks, which transcend cultural boundaries, Saïdou Dicko has been shown in several international exhibitions, collections and museums. He has been displayed in renowned institutions, such as Paris Photo, Institut des Cultures d'Islam, AIPAD, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD), and Dakar Biennial, gaining acclaim.

Last year, in 2022, he presented “Umrissene Welten”, an enriching exhibition at ARTCO Gallery Berlin (14th September - 29th October), where he showed his famous shadows on colorful backgrounds. 

Cover Image: Courtesy of ARTCO Gallery

Written by: Kooness

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