Artwork of the Day: Clameur des Arenes, Mamadou "Thia" Ndiaye

Mamadou NDIAYE THIA, Clameur des Arenes

"Clameur des Arenes" by Mamadou "Thia" Ndiaye

Today’s Artwork of the Day is “Clameur des Arenes,” an installation of 60cm sculptures by Mamadou “Thia” Ndiaye, who will be exhibiting at Artexpo New York 2011.

One of the most critically acclaimed artists in Senegal, Thia finds inspiration in ancestral values of his culture. In “Clameur des Arenes” — The Clamor of the Arena — the artist highlights the tribal bonding and religious syncretism of traditional West African wrestling arenas.

Unanimously selected as first prize in the Salon National des Arts Plastiques du Sénégal (National Salon of Plastic Arts) in 2007, “Clameur des Arenes” includes bronze figures of dancers, musicians, promoters, cameramen and witch doctors who are as much a part of the matches as the wrestlers themselves. This MSNBC description of a weekend wrestling match shows how well Thia has captured the whirling motion of a match — part contest, part concert and part chaos:

Wrestlers…don loincloths to fight in sand-filled arenas every Saturday and Sunday night. The evenings begin with drummers pounding out a beat as the athletes crouch low and perform a stomping dance to intimidate their opponents. Competitors still rely on potions mixed by religious leaders to protect them from the evil eye.

The self-taught Thia began his career in 1981 as a sculptor and painter. A long stay with uncles in Senegal’s remote Saloum Islands, where village traditions had changed little over hundreds of years, served as the inspiration to develop the centeral themes of his oeuvre. Integrally involved in Senegal’s artistic culture, Thia now organizes the annual Festival Miroir de Dakar Plateau.

Receiving his prize at a reception at Senegal’s National Gallery, a visibly moved Ndiaye said:

I am delighted by this distinction, which is the reward of years of toil. I’m an Africanist, so I have a duty to defend African consciousness by focusing on the friendly rivalry of our kinship in traditional wrestling, a quintessentially African sport.

We will be honored to welcome Mamadou “Thia” Ndiaye to Artexpo New York 2011 March 25-27 on Pier 94.

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