Herald St is pleased to present the gallery’s second solo exhibition with Sanou Oumar, taking place in its East London premises. The installation features over twenty vibrant works on paper in two scales: one intimate and familiar, and the other expansive and immersive. Grouped by size and hung in one continuous line around the gallery, the exhibition evinces the artist’s daily, repetitive practice of meditative drawing, layered with memories and loaded with visual potency.
Growing up in Burkina Faso, Oumar had little exposure to art. He found aesthetic pleasure instead in the orderliness of the everyday: clean dishes, crisply folded sheets, buildings with neatly aligned windows, a brochure of Paris displaying the architectural beauty of the Eiffel Tower. His work has previously been considered alongside the early twentieth-century pioneering abstractionists Emma Kunz and Hilma af Klint, whose cosmic paintings were long deemed to be on the fringes of the Western canon. While there are marked similarities on a formal and mystical level, Oumar explains that his drawings are simply about ‘someone who is sitting quietly and thinking about themselves’. He began drawing shortly after moving to New York as an asylum seeker in 2015, while waiting for his lawyer at the refugee centre in Harlem or after meetings in Morningside Park. Over time his practice became a ritual, a nightly accomplishment marking a moment of deep reflection.