The bright-coloured paintings of Vincent Michea operate as souvenirs of Dakar’s past glories, visual documents of the city’s undying glamour. The capital of Senegal, Dakar, is seen behind the reticular lens of Michea’s illustrations as on a TV set. Captured with postcard style graphic sensibility, his images are built upon photographs of city views, ostensibly focusing on the jewels of its modernist architecture and the overwhelming elegance of the inhabitants of the pearl of West Africa.
The products of popular culture such as album covers, or the many portraits of ordinary and famous dakarois are enhanced by a number of visual strategies borrowed from Pop Art. Particularly influenced by Roy Lichtenstein from whom he appropriates his hallmark Ben-Day dots, Michea re-enacts the foundational strategies of copy and reproduction promoted by artists of the 1960s – including Andy Warhol and Lichtenstein himself.
His technique consists of the employment of strident blocks of colour to deliver a hard-edged imagery reminiscent of comic strips.
Homages to Senegalese musical figures on large scale canvases where he reproduces the album covers provide a hyper-realistic rendering of ephemeral material culture that resonates with nostalgia. The same applies to the reworking of the film stills taken from romantic French and Hollywood movies, where a focus on the use of mass media is peppered with an acute sense of displacement and melancholia.
Text © Gabriela Salgado