Jackson Fine Art is excited to open the season with Sanlé Sory’s Volta Photo and Saïdou Dicko’s The Shadowed People. These two bodies of work come out of the rich artistic landscape of Burkina Faso, formerly known as the Republic of Upper Volta. While these artists share a homeland, their work veers in two directions with Sory encapsulating their country’s past and Dicko documenting its present and looking toward its future. Both artists bear witness to powerful expressions of identity in a postcolonial era.  

Sanlé Sory’s black and white, square images contribute to a strong tradition of West African portrait photography of the 1960s-1980s, placing him firmly alongside Malian photographers Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keita. While Sory’s square format portraiture falls within this broader mid-century movement, his work focuses distinctly on the vibrant musical culture of his community. Sory photographed the fashion and nightlife in and around Bobo-Dioulasso, where he still lives, during the period in which the country was reveling in its newfound independence from France. Sory, who was once found burning his archive of negatives due to his perceived lack of interest in his nostalgic images, created a body of work with electric energy that still resonates today.

Saïdou Dicko’s colorful collages make use of modern techniques but provide a similarly celebratory feeling. Raised as a sheep herder, Dicko learned to draw by tracing the shadows of animals. He extends this practice to his current work, photographing people of African descent in Paris, where he lives and works, or back home in Ouagadougou, and hand-painting the figures black to obscure their identities. These silhouettes take a postcolonial stance in regaining control of the black body after centuries of exploitation, yet simultaneously provide an open space in which to project oneself, encouraging communion.

On Friday, November 5th from 6-8 pm we will host a public opening to celebrate the exhibition. On the morning of Saturday, December 4th at 11am, Lauren Tate Baeza, the Fred and Rita Richman Curator of African Art at the High Museum, will be speaking about Sanlé Sory’s work and discussing more broadly the visual culture of the immediate postcolonial moment.