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Saidou Dicko on Tracing Shadows and Giving Life to Visual Phenomena

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Saidou Dicko is a self-taught visual artist specialising in photography, videography, installation and painting. He was born in Burkina Faso in 1979 and currently lives and works in Paris, France. Growing up he used to herd animals and on his journeys he would trace the shadows of the animals and outlines of bushes and rivers that he met. Dicko believes his use of the silhouette in his work is based on this experience. Through his different forms of visual art Dicko transforms the representation of forms, giving life to visual phenomena. To physical and psychological events of light, uniting the two extreme values that are at the heart of black and white contrast. He finds pleasure in bringing together the opposites to talk to us about equality, union, maternal love, freedom, and humanity. 

Image courtesy of ARTCO Gallery

As a photographer, he captures figures against textured backgrounds. Which he occasionally enhances with paint, collage and textile-esque patterning bringing his photography together with his other forms of art such as painting. Dicko’s art continues to evolve owing to his travels, his experience as an artist, his various inspirations. His continued quest for a better world. His series, The Shadowed People, is a reflection of years of research, travel and being bound to his native land.

Hand painted photograph and digital Collage 75 x 100 cm
Image courtesy of AFIKARIS

Fifty percent of all sales of Dicko’s work go to his association, Nafoore Cellal which has developed a health center and pharmacy. The association is also brought about an organic vegetable garden employing 25 women and 7 men, 2 solar- powered water towers, and 2 manual water pumps in Dicko’s native Yagma village in Burkina Faso. In 2012, he co-founded the collective Rendez-Vous of Artists which is a nomad platform where artists exchange work. These exchanges sometimes lead to exhibition projects.

Hand painted photograph and digital collage, 2021, 75 x 100 cm
Image courtesy of Open Doors Gallery

His works received several prizes including the Prix Blachère in 2006 in Dakar Biennale, Senegal and the Prix de la francophonie at African photography encounter of Bamako in Mali in 2007. Dicko has also been awarded the Fondation Thamgidi prize in 2008 in Dakar and the Off prize of European Union.

Dicko’s work titled The Prince of Shadows made of painted photographs, drawings and works on fabric was exhibited at the AFIKARIS Gallery in Paris. He has also exhibited at Umrissene Welten, ARTCO Gallery in Berlin, Germany. The Shadowed People was exhibited at Jackson Fine Art Gallery in Atlanta, USA. Dicko has graced more exhibitions in London, England; Cape Town, South Africa; and Lisbon, Portugal with his work. He started working as a curator in 2013.


Lelethu Sobekwa was born in Gqeberha, South Africa. She holds a BA Honours in English and an MA in Creative Writing with distinction from Rhodes University. Lelethu currently writes for Art News Africa.

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