Ba Ousmane

Where are you from and where do you reside?
I am from Strasbourg, France, and I now reside in Tokyo, Japan.
What necessities do you require when making your art (radio, specific paintbrushes)?
Japanese paper, Japanese brushes, Japanese mineral pigment and a lot of love.
What are some themes you find recurring in your pieces, intentional or not?
Horses, women, warriors, mixing two or three different cultures. Line. A line is alive, you can read a lot in a line - it is a zen philosophy.
What has drawn you to depicting the female form?
I especially wanted to focus on the body - the human body - since it’s the last temple of the sacred in this world. At first I worked a lot on the male body by exploring the notion of the warrior across the world. Then, I wanted to explore my more feminine side. It turns out that female bodies are a complex subject, but also quite beautiful. I wanted to take the time to represent bodies that we are not used to seeing in art circles. Today, people refer to that approach as body positive.

Do you work from memory, models or photographs?
Mostly memory and sometimes photographs.
Are there any aspects of your process that are left to chance?
Chance and luck are constants in my work, whether it’s through the discovery of new processes or during the finalization of the artwork itself. This is something difficult to accept; it requires an open mind, an acceptance, and a long term vision.
How do the different elements of gesture and line come together in your works?
I start by painting a lot of pictures, similar to a samurai doing his kendo exercises every morning. I paint over and over again to clear my mind, with the goal of becoming one with the paper and the brush. It is only through repetition that my line can approach perfection.
Why did you choose to work with ink?
Since I have the opportunity to live in Japan, I wanted to learn a Japanese technique. I also wanted to learn a new philosophy and a new vision of the world.
When did you first start creating Japanese-inspired art?
When I arrived in Japan I was working for a fashion design firm. The CEO saw my drawings and liked my line-work, so he advised me to paint. He went on to help me create my first exhibition, during which I met calligraphers who were intrigued by my drawings. They invited me to practice with them.
What Japanese art do you find to be the most inspiring?
Ukiyo-e from the 19th century, but also Nihonga from the same period.
What tangible objects or intangible moments are you most interested in representing through your works?
“La transhumance” - I don’t know if I can translate this word in English. Transhumance is a type of pastoralism or nomadism; literally translated it describes the seasonal movement of livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures.
Are you formally trained?
I trained everyday, art is a life work. I’m learning every day, practicing every day, every minute of my life. When I wake up the first thing I do is read Artsy, Artnet and look at Pinterest. I have a mentor, Florine Desmothene. She is an amazing artist and teaches so many things. I went to art school but I quit. Art school is a scam, fuck art school.

Do you remember the first work of art that captured your attention?
A Basquiat painting in the 90’s. I read a book about him when I was a kid and saw a documentary about him on French National TV. It was the first time I saw an artist who looks like me. There was also this Chagall picture in my auntie’s flat. It made me ask a lot of questions.
Where do you find your day-to-day inspiration?
Daily life, in some old art books, in museums, and galleries.
How do your surroundings direct your approach to your work?
I make sure I am surrounded by inspiring people; the inspiration is not only in my work, but the way I live my life. It all supports making the best paintings I can.
Do you admire or draw inspiration from any of your peers who are also working now? Have you ever collaborated, or would you?
I love Lee Ufan’s work. He has an amazing conception of art. I collaborate with almost all the artists I meet. I invite them to my place and we take out paper or canvas and we start working on something. The majority of the time the result is not good but the process teaches me a lot.
Are you influenced by any author or non-visual artist?
Yes, I am influenced by some philosophers and writers like Marc Aurele, Nietzsche, Leonard Sendhar Senghor, Aimé Cesaire.
How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
In Japan, I was lucky enough to be able to develop my technique, which has given me a vocabulary rich and varied enough to be able to express myself in different ways. In the future I’ll continue to work on my concepts and artistic message. Technique is good, but a strong message is better.
Is there something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I love suitcases, they are one of my passions. I love buying suitcases, I have so many of them from Delsey, Rimowa, Louis Vuitton, and more.

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