African Art Beats Contemporary Art Gallery Presents Saadio Microcosms

By East City Art Editorial Team on October 19, 2021

Sat, October 23 2021 — Sat, December 11 2021

Courtesy of African Art Beats.
On View: October 23 – December 11, 2021

African Art Beats, a contemporary art gallery dedicated to artists from Africa and its diaspora, will open its exhibit Microcosms – showcasing Saadio’s latest work – on October 23, 2021.

About Saadio’s Approach and the Exhibit

Saadio uses acrylic and markers on canvas and paper. His colors are bold and his palette extensive. Like on an Ancient Egyptian low relief, his main characters are out of scale and as if etched on a wall surface. And yet, the police officer directing traffic, the photographer trying to snap your portrait, the street vendor pushing his trolley, or the soldier standing guard exude a powerful energy as they navigate the bustling street life around them.

The negative space is filled with sketched symbols and lines, which add context and impart vibrancy to the artwork. The symbols are inspired by Dogon and Fulani ideograms, as well as by the designs found on bogolan (the handmade Malian cotton fabric traditionally dyed with fermented mud). They represent a codified language that is only understood by the initiates. Saadio, who remembers seeing his mother paint ideograms on the walls of their house when he was young, researched them and trained with the artist collective Groupe Bogolan Kasobané in Segou (Mali). Today he uses them primarily for their aesthetic appearance.

Saadio is inspired by his environment, current events, and most of all by what he sees on the walls of Dakar (Senegal), his hometown. The walls are covered with posters promoting products and events, and graffiti that read like a book – a child writing their first letters, a mechanic jotting numbers while on the phone, a cook advertising her restaurant, a vendor calculating how much money his client still owes. Saadio finds beauty in this palimpsest. He records a way of life that is disappearing with the advance of technology and the internet – selfies are replacing photo studios and events are announced on social media.

Saadio also uses his art to comment on society and politics.  In 2011, he actively participated in the ‘Y en a Marre’ (‘Fed Up’) campaign led by Senegalese rappers and journalists to protest ineffective government and to increase youth voter registration. The movement is credited with helping to oust incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade.

Saadio’s work has been exhibited in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, Spain and the USA, as well as in Mali, Mauritania and Senegal, and is featured in numerous collections. His paintings hang in the Musée Boribana in Senegal, and in the Museo de Bellas Artes of Murcia in Spain.

About the Artist

Saadio was born in Dakar in 1965. His passion for art was instilled in him while growing up in a neighborhood with a strong community of Cape Verdeans, many of whom were billboard painters. It is with them that as a young adult he painted his first murals, becoming one of Senegal’s street art precursors.

He was working various jobs including tile layer, house painter, shoemaker, trash collector and waiter when, by a twist of fate, in 1992, he was hired as a telephone operator for a company located across from the studio of renowned artist Kalidou Kassé. He joined the artist and his assistants every day for tea for five years until his boss asked him to choose between his job and them. Saadio chose them.

It was 1997 and it marked the start of his life as a painter. After training with Kalidou Kassé, he moved to N’gor island to work with artist Kre Mbaye. Four years later, he became artistic director in charge of the N’gor art festival and started exhibiting his own work. Dakar, Venice, Paris, Zaragoza… his career was launched.

In 2006, after 15 years of artistic practice, he had an epiphanic encounter with Jean-Michel Basquiat that revolutionized his approach: he suddenly noticed the vivid graffiti all around him and embraced it, transforming his art.

About African Art Beats

African Art Beats is a gallery of contemporary art founded in 2019 in Washington DC. Its aim is to connect new and seasoned art collectors across the globe with curated works from the finest emerging and established artists from Africa and its diaspora.

African Art Beats’ mission is to introduce audiences locally and nationally to African contemporary art, to showcase the dynamism, imagination and resourcefulness of the artists it represents, and to share the universal messages conveyed through their work – messages that resonate with us, regardless of our background or walk of life.

Microcosms runs October 23 through December 11, 2021.

Opening is Saturday, October 23 (11 AM to 8 PM) and Sunday, October 24 (11 AM to 6 PM). The exhibit is on view from October 25 to December 11, by private tour. Opening hours are flexible, weekends included.

The gallery is located in Cleveland Park in Northwest DC. To schedule a visit, please call the gallery at 202 766 2608, contact us through, or reach out at Masks are required and all Covid-19 CDC protocols are being followed.

They are following all COVID19 safety protocols and masks are required in the gallery.

Questions? please call: 202-766-2608.  For more information, visit