To look at SAADIO's paintings, is like reading hieroglyphics. Magnificent, yet reserved for the initiated. Introduced by his family to the Peulh signs and the cosmogenic mysteries of the Dogon, this guardian of mysteries in turn uses symbols to express the evolution of the African society, the confrontation of traditional rituals in the heart of African contemporary society. These sacred elements are to be found in the mysterious presence of animals lost in an urban maze: hens, crocodiles, snakes, fish, a truly traditional symbolism at the core of a city that is alive, colourful, redolent, where thousands of people are on the move, whether by car, motorbike or walking, as planes fly overhead.
Dakar's walls speak, almost literally. There is an abundance of graffiti and billboards. The city is discovered by means of its walls. This colourful urban microcosm, these popular symbols are made prominent by SAADIO often in a nostalgic manner, like in his artwork titled “Kodak”, where he recovers the photographic studios of Dakar that worked in the past with Kodak film. SAADIO isolates the observed object and integrates it into a background of symbols painted like hieroglyphics.
Diseye Tantua is best known for his iconic style of "Afro Pop Art," combining graphic symbols, bold colours and expressive text. His drawings are based on traditional proverbs that are made popular by headboards and bumper stickers on buses, taxis, tricycles and street signs. Tantua focuses on social groups in urban spaces, often depicting forms of transit and movement. These scenes are overlaid with popular local expressions that speak to the energy and dynamism of the city's inhabitants.
In Tantua’s artwork we are presented with a carefully selected mix of classic, loaded, one-liners: expressions of witticism, wisdom, warning, wailing, barbed street humour, quasi-spiritual invocations, veiled threats, political protest, social commentary, common sense; the sublime and absurd masterfully hued and garnished in colour tones. The charm of the paintings in this series is that on the surface and, on initial glance, they are simple. But they are equally deceptive in that they are anchored deep in creative strength!
Stylistically, Diseye’s works are an elevation of street art and, their seeming simplicity categorises them as pop art; charting a new and vibrant direction in African pop art. In this respect they faithfully highlight the functionality of their subject matter by re-emphasising and reinvigorating the original African concept of functional art.
Diseye Tantua is the author of over 500 works scattered in many private collections in Nigeria and Europe and has exhibited extensively home and abroad. Diseye is the Vice President of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) and an active member of The Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA).
Contemporary and tribal African art