Kehinde Wiley, the artist who shot to super stardom after being commissioned to paint former President Barack Obama’s official portrait in 2017 resides in a state of splendour at Black Rock Senegal. The state-of-the-art compound situated above Yoff Bay in Dakar, Senegal’s capital contains his home and personal studio. Three adjacent towers will house mainly artists, but also film makers and writers during their one-to-three month residency program. Black Rock Senegal’s spacious and luxurious accommodations also include a gym, spa, infinity pool and an in-house chef.
The main house at 4,000 sq ft has a cathedral height light-filled foyer reached through a dramatically scaled pair of 20-ft doors carved from Amazakoue wood to be found in Cameroon. When considering who would be the best architect for the project Kenhinde specifically “wanted someone who would consider and highlight the natural surroundings: the light, the water and of course the black volcano rock that line the shore,” he explained to Brian Keith Jackson of The Cut. Architect Abib Djenne a native of Senegal received the commission and the interiors with lush fabrics woven by local artisans and contemporary furniture are by his daughter Fatiya and textile designer Arissa Dione.
The Black Rock Senegal Artist Residency program is the culmination of a five-year plan of Kehinde’s to provide access to black artists with exceptional settings in which to live, explore and create new work. He also wants them to experience African culture in general and Dakar’s local culture in particular. Tutoring in French, English and Wolof is part of the curriculum. Kehinde vividly describes Dakar as “an invigorating mix of post-colonial French and radically Wolof music, food and design traditions,” in conversation with Artsy’s Scott Indresek.
photos by Stefan Ruiz