Boubou Niang Paints with Everything but a Paint Brush

Senegalese painter Boubou Naing, also known as Boubou Design, challenges the expectations of what painting and art are. The 26-year-old artist has reinvented his craft by using unconventional methods to create portraits. From using his ear to paint Cardi B to a tennis ball balanced on a racket to paint Serena Williams, Niang has no limits when it comes to finding new ways to express himself. His work often pays homage to current events or celebrities in the media. His paintings have shed light on the EndSARS movement in Nigeria and the wildfires in Australia. He has commemorated late celebrities such as Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman through portraits using a basketball backboard and a bouquet of roses. 

Niang uses social media as his main platform and outlet. With over two million followers, he shares his craft through time-lapses of his creative process. Not only do they exhibit his paintings but they often show an artistic movement that is comparable to contemporary dance. This captivating process is only one of the many charms to his work. To add to his already unique approach, Niang can paint without looking at his canvas and always paints his portraits upside down, revealing the art by turning his canvas right side up. What seems like an added challenge is actually what Niang finds is the easiest and fastest way to paint. Niang’s visual perspective is skewed from the norm. When he was in school, Niang’s professors would always ask why he reads his papers sideways. What looks sideways or flipped to us looks normal to Niang. This is an anomaly that has now set his work apart from other artists. 

With his unique perspective and approach, Niang is paving the way for Senegalese art and artists. His influence on the arts through media is creating a space for African voices to be represented in the pantheon of great artists.