Omar Victor Diop was born in 1980 in Dakar, Senegal. He studied in finance and worked in corporate communications, managing investor relations. Since his early days, he developed an interest for Photography and Design, essentially as a means to capture the diversity of modern African societies and lifestyles. He shared his early photography on social media, drawing the attention of private curators and photographers who urged him to create more works, and so he did. Diop shot his first series, The Future of Beauty (2011), in his apartment using a curtain as a backdrop. This DIY approach has become a characteristic aspect of hiss process. The quick success of that series, which was exhibited in 2011 at the African Photography Encounters in Bamako, Mali, encouraged him to change his career path for photography the following year.
Diop’s work is not born of a vacuum. He lists influences from studio photography, literature, music, and African art including Malick Sidibé, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Cheikh Anta Diop, Soul Train, Michael Jackson, Grace Jones photographed through the eyes of Jean-Paul Gaultier, Youssou Ndour, the Mahotela Queens, and Touki Bouki, the first African road movie. “These are the things that help us [Senegalese people] figure out the role we are supposed to play on this planet, in this whole human experience,” says Diop.
The photographer explored what his role on the planet may be through his work Diaspora (2015), which reinterprets portraits of historical African leaders who were influential in European society between the 15th and 19th centuries. “I thought I would give my flesh and blood to them in an attempt to gift them and invite them into the current conversation about race relations and the contribution of Africa to the rest of the world,” says Diop. He imagines art as the only conversation that will never end, taking inspiration from people who redefine their preferred futures daily, and believing it is the only way to truly be exceptional and leave a valuable footprint for humankind.