Senegalese sculptor Sow in last French show

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A visitor takes pictures of sculptures by Senegalese artist Ousmane Sow during the opening day of his exhibition at "La citadelle de Besançon" in Besancon, eastern France, on June 15, 2013. Sow, considered one of Africa's foremost artists, inaugurated a retrospective in Besancon, his last exhibit in his adoptive France.

A visitor takes pictures of sculptures by Senegalese artist Ousmane Sow during the opening day of his exhibition at “La citadelle de Besançon” in Besancon, eastern France, on June 15, 2013. Sow, considered one of Africa’s foremost artists, inaugurated a retrospective in Besancon, his last exhibit in his adoptive France.

Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow, considered one of Africa’s foremost artists, inaugurated a retrospective in Besancon on Saturday, his last exhibit in his adoptive France before moving all of his works to a museum he is building in his home country.

The exhibit will include all the sculptures he still owns, including his latest and ongoing series entitled “Great Men” of historical figures from Charles de Gaulle to Nelson Mandela.

The 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon, who was hospitalised on June 8, is depicted in a football goalkeeper’s gear and sculpted using Sow’s trademark technique that mixes clay, rubber and other materials coated in an all-weather substance.

“He extends his hand to keep corrupt African heads of state at bay,” Sow said as he presented the dozens of sculptures that will remain on show for three months in this eastern French city.

Sow, who was born in 1935 in Dakar, said sculptures of Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali and Gandhi would soon join the gallery of men who “helped me not despair of mankind”.

His work first caught the world’s attention in 1999 when his muscular, larger-than-life sculptures of wrestlers were displayed on a Paris bridge facing the Louvre Museum.

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