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Joe Ouakam

Painter, sculptor, actor and playwright Joe Ouakam (real name Issa Samb) was born in Dakar, educated by his grandfather, a Lebu dignitary, guardian of ancestor’s traditions. Lulled, since childhood, in an environment which combined light and shadow, Ouakam developed an early taste for the observation of the meaning of symbols. “All my life, I have battled with ideas, time. At all times, I explore the soul, that deep well”.
He studied at the National Arts School in Dakar, and did a degree in Law and Philosophy at the University of Dakar. “He is a symbolic figure and patron of art in Senegal”.
For the last 40 years he has lived among his work in his yard, a permanent exhibition, combining all sorts of objects and varying over time, “time”, the companion of the artist.
A pause and Joe Ouakam tried new challenges including street theatre where he is author, director and actor. He covered all kinds of themes that appeal to public life. This very innovative style of theatre was taking place on the streets of Dakar, where each spectator could, at their will, stage their own scene to play their own part.
He has conducted this experiment for years. For the artist it was a method, like any another, to educate ordinary people to the different problems that could confront their society.
Joe Ouakam has never sought to participate in exhibitions; he has always preferred to hang his many works in his yard, to escape the conformity of the standard exhibition venues. He does however, respond to some requests.

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