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Senegalese artist Omar Ba explores dictatorship in Bethnal Green exhibition

Omar Ba's painting, Afrique, Afrique, Afrique. Image courtesy of the Artist and Hales Gallery. Omar Ba's painting, Afrique, Afrique, Afrique. Image courtesy of the Artist and Hales Gallery.

Monday, August 11, 2014
1:33 PM

A new exhibition in Bethnal Green will explore the themes of dictatorship, war and modernity.

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Senegalese artist Omar Ba will have his work displayed at the Hales Gallery in his first solo exhibition.

State of Emergency, which can be viewed from September 3 to October 4, draws on his time living in Senegal and Switzerland and brings together African and western artistic influences, often centred around single figures, isolated on black surfaces.

Ba started painting as a child in Dakar, where he and his friends would draw on walls with almonds found inside mango stones, often inspired by television cartoons.

Much of his work is painted directly on to corrugated cardboard sheets, and uses myth-like or folklore beings to arrest the viewer.

Ba makes use of imagery associated with famine, tribal decoration, factional warfare and despotic self-styled leaders, along with advances in new technology and popular culture.

But he goes beyond focusing on one dictator or one country.

The images are meant to be symbolic and carry a universal message.

Sasha Gomeniuk, gallery coordinator at the Hales Gallery, said: “We’ve been working with Omar for about two years now and we’ve shown his work in the United States and in Hong Kong.

“The response has been great. His work is very strong in terms of the themes he uses.”

The Hale Gallery is housed in the Tea Building in Bethnal Green Road, and has helped launch many artists’ careers, including Carolee Schneemann, Tom Price, Hew Locke, Rachael Champion and Trenton Doyle Hancock.

For more information visit halesgallery.com or follow the gallery on Twitter @HalesGallery.

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