Azou Bade, Peule woman in traditional dress, 2014 © Azou Bade; photo: M. Berna.

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Regards du Sénégal. Souwèr de la collection Afric.Art

Vitromusée Romont



For the first time in Switzerland, the Vitromusée Romont is devoting an exhibition entirely to Senegalese Painting under Glass. This popular art form, known by the Wolof term souwèr, was imported from North Africa and the Middle East at the end of the 19th century. It spread to the country's urban centers via Arab and Berber merchants, as well as marabouts and Senegalese Muslim scholars returning from pilgrimages. The images, copied by anonymous painters, recount the epic of Islam and depict disciples of the Prophet and saints. The souwèr then evolved into a means of expressing identity, featuring the great local figures of the Muslim brotherhoods and resistance to French colonization. In the 1960s, around the time of Senegal's independence, a new repertoire of imagery developed, spurred on by a number of artists who introduced secular themes. This exhibition presents a number of Senegalese artists who express their creativity by revisiting this iconographic heritage. Their works stand out from the trend towards the tourist market and mass production. Drawn from the Afric.Art collection, this group of works by Marianne Berna reflects the sensibility of a Zurich collector whose interest in this street art dates back to the late 1990s. A frequent traveler to Senegal, she documented the workshops in Dakar through her encounters with painters and artists.