Renowned Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow, undoubtedly one of the greatest artists ever produced by Africa, died on Thursday at the age of 81.
Ousmane Sow was known around the world for his intriguing and monumental sculptures of Nubian wrestlers. The sculptures had been inspired by photographs taken by the controversial German photographer Leni Riefenstahl in Sudan.
His pieces, especially those of the striking bronzes of muscular African men; “The Maasai”, “The Zulus” and “The Fulani” were widely exhibited in France and at the prestigious Documenta festival in Germany and the Venice Biennale.
Senegal’s Culture Minister Mbagnick Ndiaye said of him;
“The fact that his works were shown all over the world proved that he was a giant of culture. It is a real loss.”
Tributes continue to pour in for the Senegalese sculptor and the heartfelt tributes were led by the country’s President Macky Sall, who calls him “a great Senegalese artist”. President Macky Sall also tweeted a film of Sow talking (in French) about his work and the importance of his sculptures having an African sensibility.
Ousmane Sow was a former physiotherapist who became the the first African to be admitted to the French Academy of Beaux Arts. He began to take his work in the arts seriously only when he clocked 50.
Critics believed that his former background as a physiotherapist played a part in his success as an artist, because he had an intimate knowledge of human anatomy. Ousmane Sow once said of himself;
“I could be blindfolded and still make a human body from head to toe,”
He had been ill for a long time and a member of family who shared the news of his death with AFP said;
“He has taken with him all the dreams and projects that his body was too tired to finish.”
Ousmane Sow’s most famous statues include Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.