ABDOULAYE KONATÉ at Arken 21 April -18 September 2016 [DK]
Abdoulaye Konaté. Courtesy of the artist and Blain|Southern
21 April -18 September 2016 [DK]
Materiality and geopolitics, colour harmonies and genocide, beauty and ecology. Malian artist Abdoulaye Konaté (b. 1953) delivers powerful messages using textiles in his radiantly coloured works. Now the fascinating artworks of one of the most significant figures in African contemporary art can be experienced at the artist’s first Danish solo exhibition.
Mali and the global
Mali faces many challenges as one of the world’s poorest countries, with a history that includes the slave trade, the French colonial era, drought, wars and AIDS, as well as current religious and ethnic conflicts. Mali is also a country with a rich cultural heritage, not least in music, clothing and local craftsmanship. Konaté draws on all of this in his art. At the same time Konaté is a global contemporary artist who, in large, evocative works, comments on the international power relations and problems that affect us all.
One major work references the simultaneous genocides in Bosnia, Angola and Rwanda, while another deals with the culture of the Guarani people in Brazil. A third work shows a crowd of migrants, and in a fourth, a pencil functions as a homage to free speech.
Like everyone else, Konaté is affected by the tragedies and injustices of the world. As an artist he dreams of tolerance and continues to create works that address contemporary global issues.
A major working process
Abdoulaye Konaté brings together patches and ribbons of dyed cloth to create beautiful, simple compositions. His material specifically originates from his homeland, Mali, referencing the country’s textile tradition. Cotton is a part of the identity of the nation and an important export for Mali.
For Konaté each work begins with preparatory sketches. Assistants and local crafts people dye the cotton in all conceivable shades, and it is then assembled into largescale textile works and installations. They are sewn over with a sewing machine and finally the signature is embroidered at the end. Each work is a major project, which in its finished form, radiates both simplicity and complexity.
First Danish solo exhibition
Abdoulaye Konaté is one of the most significant figures in African contemporary art. The exhibition is the artist’s first Danish solo exhibition and presents 12 major works from Konaté’s artistic activities over the past two decades, including a brand new work that has not previously been exhibited.
Konaté has exhibited widely and internationally, including Documenta 12 in Kassel and Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent at The Hayward Gallery in London. One of his works has also recently being acquired for the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Abdoulaye Konaté lives and works in the capital of Mali, Bamako. He trained as a painter in Bamako and then at the University of Arts in Havana, Cuba. Konaté is founding Director of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers Multimédia Balla Fasseké Kouyaté in Bamako, Mali.
The exhibition has been created in collaboration with Blain|Southern and the artist.
Images courtesy of Gallery and the Artist