January 25, 2019

Omar Ba @ The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto

Omar Ba, Same Dream 
The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto 
26 January - 12 May 2019

Omar Ba's work engages with some of the most urgent issues of our time: the growing inequality of wealth and power globally, questions around immigration, and our changing relationship with the natural world. His penchant for depicting personal narratives alongside collective ones speaks to the "in-between" condition of his work, as he splits his time between Dakar, Senegal and Geneva, Switzerland, and blends the visual texture of both places through his work. Omar Ba regularly draws from and intertwines a range of elements -the historical and contemporary, figurative and abstract imagery- from African and European cultures, as well as the techniques and tools he employs, including corrugated cardboard and canvas, paintbrushes and his hands. He prepares his surfaces-whether cardboard, canvas or wall-with a black ground, upon which he layers a vivid palette dominated by primary colours. The paintings teem with details as micro-worlds exist within larger constellations, oscillating between bold planes of colour and intricate outlines. Largely symbolic, the figures and forms portrayed refer not to specific individuals, but rather are open to universal narratives.

Same Dream brings together several of Omar Ba's paintings depicting dictators and authority figures, who lead corrupt and violent régimes across the African continent and in other parts of the world, particularly where thé legacies of colonialism persist. At times represented as hybrid beasts-part human, part animal -these despotic warlords are typically enveloped in an abundance of lush flora and fauna. Indeed, nature becomes a continuous force across Omar Ba's oeuvre. The recurring biomorphic shapes are often inspired by Senegal's dazzling coastal environment in which Omar Ba grew up. In conversation with this group of paintings, the exhibition also presents works that reveal Omar Ba's affinity for portraying the strength of the human spirit-depictions of youth who, regardless of where they are, share some of the same dreams for the future. For the exhibition at The Power Plant, Omar Ba has developed a new large-scale work directly on one of the gallery walls, exploring a recurrent motif of birth, death and reincarnation across different cultures today.

The world of Omar Ba's painting is a hybrid one, ultimately evoking a shared cosmogony between humans, plants and animals.

Same Dream is Omar Ba's first institutional solo exhibition in North America.

Curator: Nabila Abdel Nabi, Associate Curator

The Power Plant 
Contemporary Art Gallery
231 Queens Quay West, Toronto, Ontario M5J2G8