I was thrilled to meet Omar at an exhibition held at a swanky new hotel in Dakar in December - I had seen his images online, and was particularly struck by the African remake of Frida Kahlo's 'The Two Fridas'.
Omar is relatively new to the art of photography, but has quickly developed a huge following in Senegal and abroad, and is in demand for designers and artists when it comes to promoting their new creations (Senegalese fashion labels Bull Doff and SERAKA have both had their recent collections shot by him).
|SERAKA by Omar Victor Diop|
There is a real depth to Omar's work - he has a masterly eye for composition, and a wonderful aesthetic for all things textile and texture. He describes his work as lying somewhere between fashion and conceptual art, with a very modern edge. Working with French photographer Antoine Tempé, Omar created a series of cinematic posters which reference classic American and French cinema for the 'Onomollywood' exhibition. The below shot is an 'African remake' of the poster for "American Beauty".
Whilst my meeting with Omar was very brief, what struck about his work is how dedicated he is to promoting 'africanity' and 'normalising' the African continent by steering away from cliches images often associated with the continent. He acknowledges that 'Africa' suffers from a deficit of positive images, and even though it is important to be clear about the realities of life, it is equally important to show the normal, less-dramatic side of life on the expansive continent. He underlines that for him, it is important to highlight his experience of living in Senegal, because it means his work is authentic, and it gives a voice to the country, and to the continent in whole.
|Omar Victor Diop|
Below are some photos from my favourite collections - Wax Dolls, which cheekily references the growing popularity of wax print fabric amongst the 'afropolitans' of West Africa. Given the history of wax, particularly in Senegal where the bright fabric is generally reserved for day-to-day wear, Diop cleverly plays with wax print's recent reemergence as a contemporary fashion staple.
All photos from Omar Victor Diop Photography