Ibou Ibrahima Ndoye

Born in West Africa's most progressive capital city, Dakar, Senegal, glass-painting artist Ibrahima Ndoye has combined modernism and traditionalism to create a style unique to himself. Ibrahima, commonly known as "Ibou," grew up as the oldest child of a family of four boys in the suburbs of Dakar. Ibou's mother made her living as a dressmaker while his grandmother worked as a tie-dye artist. Regularly surrounded by colorful African textiles and fabrics, it is not surprising that Ibou says he "socialized with art and cohabited with colors" from a very young age.

Ibou began his career as a painter in the late 1980s during a period in Senegal called the "Set Setal," or clean-up movement. The movement encouraged artists to embellish the environment by expressing themselves through murals on buildings and walls. It was during this time that Ibou painted several murals in the suburban city of Pikine. Some of Ibou’s murals were selected to appear in a French-produced documentary in 1990.

Eventually Ibou’s interests changed. Following a tradition brought from the Middle East to Senegal one hundred years prior, Ibou entered and renovated the world of glass painting. When the technique was first introduced to the Senegalese, the subject matter was predominated by religious scenes- i.e. Abraham’s sacrifice, Noah’s Ark, Mary and Jesus. It wasn’t until after Senegal gained its independence from its French colonizers (1960) that glass painting expanded in new directions. However, through the 1980s only those holding degrees in fine art dared to play with the century-old tradition. These initial innovators tended to create images in such a way that the traditional style was barely recognizable through their abstractions.

It was in the early 90s that a third wave of glass painters surfaced in Dakar. People like Ibou began to look back at the traditional style of their predecessors with a new inspiration. Instead of painting traditional African scenes on clean sheets of regularly shaped glass, Ibou started breaking and layering the glass to create new textures and effects. The incorporation of various other materials including copper wire, broken bottles, wood, bone, and animal skin began to appear in Ibou’s work as well. Later in his life, upon relocating to America, Ibou took one step further by mixing glass with plastics and other materials common to our modern environment. It is not unusual to find Ibou stapling scraps of soda cans and detergent boxes onto vibrantly painted CD cases portraying images of African women carrying jugs of water above their heads. As the times changed, so did Ibou’s work, creating a new style from an old tradition.

In the late 90s Ibou began exhibiting his work around Africa and Europe in local and internationally touring shows. The Biannual of African Art hosted in Dakar regularly accepts Ibou’s work for exhibition in a show titled "The Salon of Glass Painting." In 1999 Ibou expanded his involvement in Senegal’s art scene when he started running glass painting workshops at the El Hadji Doudou Mbath Primary School, and later at the Dakar YMCA.

In 2001 Ibou found himself on his way to join a friend in New England. For several months Ibou taught painting classes at Allen Special Needs Camp for the disabled in Bedford, New Hampshire. Later that year Ibou moved to Rhode Island where he acted as an art instructor for a program entitled "Kids at Risk" run by the Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program (UCAP). Ibou also appeared as a guest speaker on the Cox Television production "Cultural Tapestry."

Now Ibou resides in Jersey City, New Jersey, and regularly exhibits his art both locally and internationally in addition to holding glass painting workshops at libraries and schools. Ibou intends to continue promoting and expanding his artistic vision through exhibition, education and cultural exchange.

- Jaclyn Pedalino
- African Art Management

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Ibou Ndoye