In collaboration with Toronto’s Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is presenting the first Canadian monographic exhibition dedicated to Omar Ba, one of the most influential artists of his generation. OMAR BA: SAME DREAM showcases a selection of Ba’s major works from different periods in his career. In addition, the artist has created a large-scale mural for the Montreal public, directly on one of the gallery walls. Ba’s work is at once a bold critique of tyranny, a celebration of the strength of the human spirit and an ode to the resilience of the world’s youth.
Omar Ba’s work engages with some of the most urgent issues of our time: the global inequality of wealth and power, immigration crises and our changing relationship to the natural world. His penchant for depicting personal narratives alongside collective ones speaks to the multivalent character of his work.
In his practice, Ba synthesizes the visual texture of his two homes – Dakar, Senegal, and Geneva, Switzerland – combining the historical and the contemporary, elements African and European, as well as a range of techniques and tools including corrugated cardboard and his bare hands.
The artist prepares his surfaces – be they cardboard, canvas or wall – with a black ground, upon which he layers vivid colours and complex compositions teeming with detail. His figures emerge from lush flora and fauna and biomorphic forms inspired by the dazzling coast of Senegal, where he grew up. Micro-worlds exist within larger constellations that evoke a shared cosmogony between humans, plants and animals.
Born in Senegal in 1977, Omar Ba splits his time between Dakar and Geneva. He has notably exhibited at the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels (2017); Ferme-Asile, Sion, Switzerland (2015); the Hales Gallery, London, UK (2017 and 2014); the Biennale de Dakar (2014); and the Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland (2012), among other institutions. Ba’s works can be found in private and public collections, including those of Credit Suisse, Switzerland, the Fonds municipal d’art contemporain de la Ville de Genève, the Fonds municipal d’art contemporain de la Ville de Paris, the Centre national des arts plastiques, France, and the Barbier-Mueller Collection, Geneva. In 2011, Ba received the Swiss Art Award.
An exhibition initiated, organized and circulated by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, in collaboration with the MMFA. It is curated by Nabila Abdel Nabi, Associate Curator, The Power Plant, and Mary-Dailey Desmarais, Curator of International Modern and Contemporary Art, MMFA, for the Montreal presentation.
The exhibition received support from TD The Ready Commitment, the Pro-Helvetia Swiss Council and Lead Donors Steven and Lynda Latner. It is presented in Montreal by Air Canada and the MMFA’s Young Philanthropists’ Circle as part of the upcoming inauguration of the Stéphan Crétier and Stéphany Maillery Wing for World Cultures and Togetherness.
The Museum extends its thanks to Quebec’s Ministère de la Culture et des Communications for its vital support, as well as to the Conseil des arts de Montréal and the Canada Council for the Arts for their ongoing support.
The Museum acknowledges the essential contribution of Air Canada to the exhibition and thanks the MMFA’s Young Philanthropists’ Circle, proud supporters of the Museum’s contemporary art program.