Malick Sidibe, the prominent Malian photographer Sidibé died on the 14th of April 2016 at the age of 80 years. He was born in 1935, in the small village of Soloba, Mali. He was popularly known as “The Eye Of Bamako”. Sidibé’s works have been highly exhibited internationally. Malick won numerous awards during his lifetime.
Malick Sidibe became most popular in the post colonial times for his signature black and white photography. His pictures were usually also taken with a black and white backdrop. With these pictures he portrayed the popular/youthful culture at the time. Sidibe was a studio photographer.
At a younger age, he tended his father’s herd and worked in the fields, both, he did in 2 years. Malick was born poor but he changed his story with his skills in visual arts. Somehow Malick said he had a weird liking for old and odd things.
He loved to draw with coal as a child. And as a brilliant student, he was awarded art books. His art skills earned the interest of an influential personality, Major who sponsored his education at the School of Sudanese Craftsmen in Mali’s capital, Bamako. He had earlier learned the art of decoration from his mother. This once again paved a unique way for him while in school.
On his first photography encounter, he realized that “the camera was a lot faster than a paintbrush.” Malick Sidibe later took up a job at Gérard Guillat’s studio. There, he worked as an a accountant and a procurement person. Once he had saved up some money he bought himself an “amateur camera”. Sidibe says he observed and solely taught himself how to use the camera.
According to the late photography veteran, he helped his clients strike poses that were more life-like than static. As a lover of the contemporary fun lifestyle and fashion back then, he was the youth’s choice. He recorded numerous parties and events in pictures.
“So I was much in demand by the local youth. Everywhere… in town, everywhere! Whenever there was a dance, I was invited.”