Omar Ba’s State of Emergency

The Senegalese artist's striking pieces are beautiful, but deceptively dark

The vibrant, precise color combinations and elaborate detailing in artist Omar Ba’s paintings, on show now at London’s Hales Gallery, sometimes make them reminiscent of illustrations for a beautiful children’s book. But as you draw closer, the sinister underside of the images starts to reveal itself—the reflections in a man’s sunglasses depict tanks and a helicopter, the marionette hands that control soldiers and weapons bear …