Array of colours, symbolism & essence at Gallery 1957

by • October 19, 2020 • FeaturedArticle, NewsComments (0)134

By John Owoo

(In Accra – Ghana)

Malian artist Abdoulaye Konate does not cease to surprise art lovers with his multi layered assemblages that are characterized by stirring compositions while vibrating with rich and deep colours.

In his first solo exhibition in Ghana, the weaver turned Gallery 1957 in Accra into a groove of colours by employing the famous kente cloth and other fabrics, which he delicately cuts and sews into giant pieces.

Radiating history, spirituality and politics, symbolism and essence, works by Konate equally evoke bouts of emotion from viewers while sparking intrinsic / extrinsic impressions – all through the power of insignia. 

With a complex blend of woven and dyed fabrics from Mali and Ghana, Konate produced large-scale abstract and figurative compositions that recall the skills of West African weavers and textile traditions. Undeniably, he meticulously created a scenario where fabrics equally venerate and communicate.  

Strips of materials in blues, greens, reds, golds and others overlap accurately and symbolically as he interweaves diverse material cultures and societies across the African continent. Employing geometric and abstract shapes, the artist similarly generates a space of energy, peace and tranquility.

Curated by Dr. Silvia Forni, a senior curator at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada), large scale works on show also incorporate motifs from the Sahel, royal figures, subtle comments on globalization and references to the state of affairs in his native Mali.   

In 1996, Konate was awarded the Grand Prize at the Dakar African Contemporary Art Biennial. His works have been shown on all continents in many festivals, biennials and exhibitions, including the well-known traveling exhibition, “Africa Remix” (2004-2007).

Most prestigious institutions have welcomed his works, including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. (USA), Museum of Modern Art, Arab World Institute and Fondation Blachère – all in France. 

He was the director of exhibitions at the National Museum of Mali from 1985 to 1997, Director of the “Palais de la Culture de Bamako” and “Rencontres Photographiques de Bamako” from 1998 to 2002. Since 2003, he has directed the “Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers Multimédia”in Bamako, Mali.

An Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, Dr. Forni is in charge of the African Collection at the Royal Ontario Museum of Art and Culture and responsible for the permanent and rotating display of African artworks in the Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa in Canada.

The exhibition ends on Monday November 30, 2020.

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