Ousmane Gueye was born on 1956 in Dakar in Senegal. Introduced since primary school to art, he started to sculpt stone at the age of 6. In 1956, during the World Festival of Black Arts, the president and poet, Léopold Sédar Senghor, fascinated by the young boy's works, decided to give him a scholarship to carry on his education in the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts of Paris.
Thanks to this support, Ousmane moved in Paris and soon got the patronage of the famous artists and teachers Étienne Martin, César and Jean Cardot. After that, he went to école Boulle in Paris, and then kept on to study architecture in the Academy of Arts in Rome and in the Henry Moore Foundation in England.
A limitless artist
The development of his art made him travel from Paris to New York, from England to Switzerland or Japan. Ousmane Gueye walked through the entire world to find out new materials he needed but also to find an audience and ideal places to work in. He often says that the artist has no country, as the anthropologist and ethnologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss says:
« The sense of gratitude and respect which each single member of a given culture can and should feel towards all others can only be based on the conviction that the other cultures differ from his own in countless ways. ».
Cubism and African art
In the 20th century, several artists (Modigliani, Vlaminck, Derain, Moore, Le Fauconnier, Brancusi...) defended and found their inspiration in the African sculptures, especially in the masks which have this expressive force. Among them, Braque and Picasso, questionned the foundation of the visual representation and the abandon of perspective representation ; this is the Cubism revolution. The latter and its consequences on contemporary art, fed Ousmane Gueye's work. The artist inherits from the Cubists, abstraction, simplification of the forms and essential lines, and from the African art, the expressive stretching of faces, disproportions and geometrical approach.
With this mix of influences, Ousmane tries to explore beyond Cubism, bringing a sculptural sensuality of the material and a discussion between the being and the matter.
« My sculptures are shapes surrounded by another one which need to be released. The stone decides. »
This way, his work shows a variable play of shapes and colors. In his hands, changes happen, the material looses his cold nature, free itself from its lifeless and inflexible fate to offer to the look and the touch, different craftsmanship with the surface work.
Ousmane Gueye develops his art in sort of always going deeper inside. Through his questioning and his universality desire, the artist wishes each person can feel, with more or less strenght, the inherent value of his work : light, volume, balance, links between plans, perspective or aesthetics.
« The most important thing is that, each and every one can find a little piece of himself, a personal interpretation. »
For him, this artist has many roles in the society: to make more beautiful, to be a model, to be a part of economical, touristic and cultural development, but also to be an inspiration and a source of ambition because art is a mean of expression with a great power. That's why the artist is really attached to education theme because it enables the young generation to be sensitived to culture, to stimulate them and in this way to open themself to the world.
« To look further, to outline, to sketch roughly and to choose the material.
Thanks to his numerous travels all around the world, Ousmane Gueye brought back a perfect knowledge of materials and the places to find them. Wood, basalt, alabaster, agate, bronze, glass, slate, are all revelations which didn't come across his path by accident. Among them, stone has a main importance, because it is resistant and marks time and history. But there is also a precious material for Ousmane : slate or « The blue diamond » as he likes to call it, the Anjou (a slate territory in France) blue diamond, component of his monumental sculptures.
In the African oral tradition, the patriarch passes down his knowledge. For Ousmane, the loss of the knowledge in Africa is one of the serious problem of this continent today. With « Book Heads », he pays tribute to the knowledge sharers, and beyond, to education, to the education right, to research and to all of those who are sharing knowledge.
« Be surrounded by knowledge gives you power »
Monumental reveals perfectly Ousmane's Gueye ambition. For him, it is about giving ambition, inspiring, and giving fancy to do anything. Monumental sculptures are built in imposing slate scrap, then raised vertically on a base, just like extending the look to the sky, blue and infinite.
The sculptures, reserved to integrate a space (public, institutional) are on the rise thanks to Ousmane's applied knowledge in spaces and environnement planning, as the conclusion of his work in the production of the final presentation.
The Blue Forest
In a small village called Sœurdres, in France, Ousmane Gueye's long-standing project became alive. When he came back from the USA in 2007, he still had the wish of creating a landscape park to get together and converge several means of artistic expression. A place opened to everyone, which offers a initiatory trip of thought, raising awareness about this precious theme for Ousmane : nature.
From this close relationship with nature, the Blue Forest project was born. This place, cover 10 acres with all kinds of plants (about 300 fruit-trees), and then will propose a permanent collection about twenty monumental sculptures outside, at which other artists will be invited to join then.
In the « Blue Forest », Ousmane pays another tribute to trees, part of the everyday life but which have an essential place in our existence, for their incredible life factor. That's why, Ousmane tries hard to give to dead trees a second life. Saved, worked and sculpted, they become a new forest both fossilised and alive, close together through the volume and colors. But why do we find blue as the main color of this forest ? It reminds the "Anjou" (slate territory) color but also the color of the sky, its vastness and its connected presence across the world, a color which gather the people.
From France to Senegal
Over his projects in France, Ousmane Gueye does not forget his Senegalese roots. Deep inside him, Ousmane wishes to see the Blue Forest in his country of orign, with the same goal : protection of the nature and help to the touristic and cultural development of this country. It is the same ambition of legacy he has for opening his own museum, to leave a trace, and to share to the young generation his knowledge.
« Art is one of the domains that Africa must develop, protect and keep. »
For Ousmane, art has a solid value on which we can't cheat : the unique aspect of a work. With its identity and historical strength, Africa must refocus on its heritage and help art to develop with education which is important to distribute, thus to create a cultural explosion.