Ibn Cheickh Sallah Diebkilé, a renowned Ivorian French artist born in Abidjan in the 1980s, is currently revealing his works at the ongoing ‘Art Meets Design Abidjan’ exhibition in collaboration with BoConcept Abidjan and Nomadic Art Gallery.
With a deep pride in his Afroglobalized identity and driven by a passion for curved and bold lines, his art vividly captures the resilience of a diverse humanity. The exhibition at BoConcept Abidjan offers an immersive experience of Diebkilé’s artistic journey, presenting a seamless fusion of tradition and contemporary aesthetics for the discerning audience.
Speaking with Art News Africa, he walks us through his artistic journey, from a childhood interest in comic strips to his recent success as a self-taught painter and also his exhibition with BoConcept Abidjan.
D.C: Could you walk us through your artistic journey, sharing more light on the events that led to your success as an artist?
I.C: I have been drawing since childhood, I was into comic strips. 5 years ago, I decided to take up painting. I am self-taught. In 2020, I exhibited with the Atelier du Monde, an association that promotes artists in Paris 7th arrondissement.
Also in June 2022, I participated in the exhibition discoveries at the Louise Simone Guirandou Gallery in Ivory Coast, which catapulted me into the African Art scene. In October 2022, I was honoured to receive personal encouragement from the 1st lady of the Ivory Coast, Her Excellency Mrs. Dominique Ouattara. During the same month, the organizers of Art Shopping at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris extended an invitation for me to exhibit as the sole Ivorian artist. Subsequently, in June 2023, I received invitations to exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, Japan, and to showcase my work at the Maru Art Center in Seoul, Korea. Finally, In December 2023, I was one of the artists exhibiting at Dubai Expo City as part of COP28 representing Ivory Coast as an artist on climate issues.
D.C: Reflecting on your life’s path, when did the realization strike that art was the primary medium through which you wished to tell your story and beliefs?
I.C: From my first exhibition, it was abundantly clear to me that I was a witness of our time and had an obligation as an artist to be a voice of society – a society where art knows no borders or boundaries.
D.C: What sets the “Art meets Design” exhibition apart for you, and why does it hold a special place in your artistic narrative?
I.C: I am an anti-conformist artist and a strong advocate for synergies. In this exhibition, we go beyond the conventional format in most classic galleries. We combine artistic expressions – those of furniture designers and those of artists – all represented in a setting the viewer can relate to. I find this collaboration with BoConcept brilliant.
D.C: The Nomadic Art Gallery has been a key platform for showcasing African artists, yourself included. How does collaborating with such a gallery align with the broader mission of amplifying the voice and visibility of African art?
I.C: It is an honor for me to collaborate with Nomadic Art Gallery. As you will have seen from my past, I am inspired by travels, cultures and impressions. The Nomadic aspect of art is a notion I certainly can relate to.
D.C: Many view Nomadic Art Gallery as the ‘Afrobeat of Contemporary Art’, how do you think this narrative of African art can actively contribute to its recognition on the global stage?
I.C: I think that every African Artist is a spokesperson for the continent. Every artistic voice represents our strong roots and culture and firmly contributes to African contemporary Art’s recognition on the world stage.
D.C: There are times when balancing diverse spiritual interpretations can be challenging. How do you navigate this challenge to ensure that your art resonates with a broad audience?
I.C: I am originally from the Dogon tribe in Mali. The Dogons are known for their spirituality and appreciation for science. We believe in the forces of nature. It is therefore a privilege and a commitment to perpetuate this culture.
D.C: Your extensive travels to cities like Paris, Tokyo, Seoul, and Dubai have exposed you to diverse cultures. How do these global inspirations manifest in specific elements within your artworks seeing as your works are also deeply rooted in the African culture?
I.C: I paint multicultural realities by combining ancestral influences with modern techniques. It is therefore very enriching to have had the chance to visit and experience other countries and allow influences to impact and inspire my works.
D.C: Your artistic process involves a rich blend of ancestral influences and modern techniques. Can you elaborate on how you approach the creative process, especially when preparing for an exhibition, and how it differs from your day-to-day artistic practice?
I.C: I have taken refuge in Kundalini YOGA which helps me spiritually and mentally. It has worked amazingly for my creative processes and helps me prepare for travels and exhibitions.
D.C: Looking beyond this exhibition, what themes or projects do you aspire to explore in your future artistic endeavors, especially considering the evolving landscape of contemporary art?
I.C: I would love to launch an artist residency in Ivory Coast. We have so many very talented young artists who need to be recognized.
The exhibition at BoConcept Abidjan is open to the public during opening store-hours and it runs until February 3rd 2024.
For further information please contact
Ms. Mercy Imiegha
Tel: +234 814 003 4651