Soly Cissé is a painter, draughtsman, and sculptor from Dakar, Senegal. His paintings are at once pictorial and graphic, rooted in the culture of his hometown, and loaded with autobiographical content. Cissé creates fantasy worlds where figures emerge from chaos and disharmony. His figures merge animal and human forms into strange, improbable hybrids wearing mortuary masks, as if they are deities of Cissé’s magical world. Linear patterns, checkerboards, and sequences of letters and numbers bring tension to his work, while also referencing both barcodes and mystical numerologies.
Cissé grew up in a time where the people of Dakar began to clean, repair, and beautify the city’s neighborhoods after a tumultuous period of riots and political discontent. Art became a vehicle for social activism for the disenfranchised youth of Dakar. Soly Cissé’s art remains entrenched in the tensions that brought about this movement in Senegal, tensions of traditional versus modern, what is familiar versus what is imagined.