By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
An exhibition of artworks by four West and Central African masters – Abdoulaye Konaté (Mali), Soly Cissé (Senegal), Ky Siriki (Côte d’Ivoire) and Barthélémy Toguo (Cameroon) ended last week at Gallery 1957 in Accra.
A dramatic blend of mixed media presentation where textiles, sculptures, oil paintings and watercolors meet and shine – the works are juxtaposed to one another thereby leaving them in an open dialogue.
Indeed, these creative men produce works that are intensely embedded in their traditions and culture. They engulf these works with auto-biographical contents thereby resulting in fantastic landscapes where figures emerge from consistency and inconsistency.
Konaté, who was recently honored at the ongoing Dak Art Biennial in the Senegalese capital Dakar, is noted for his large scale works that are meticulously weaved from dyed clothes, which explore socio-political, cultural and environmental issues.
Employing material from his native Mali and beyond, which he turns into figurative compositions, Konate questions the way in which societies and individuals have been touched by war, power, religion, globalization, conservation, HIV AIDS and more recently the ravaging corona virus.
Captivated by transparencies, Soly Cissé allows light to intrude on darkness as he showcases the substance of colours while abhorring imitation and illustration. Undeniably, each painting brings to the fore a new world, indeed new creatures, which are neither fully human or animal.
Also known as a sculptor, his works are characterized by spontaneous painterly movements, textured accents and neo-expressionistic techniques. Indeed, distorted human figures turn into humanlike shadows alongside abstract lines and bold brush strokes.
Acclaimed Ivorian sculptor Siriki interprets the world through stone, wood and bronze while touching on the known and unknown. He emphasizes the real and the unreal, tradition and modernity, sacred and profane as he transmits messages from his canvass.
Noted for his emphasis on mythology, natural forces and metamorphosis, which are perceptible in his works, he employs the use of bronze and quite often a traditional furnace while maintaining the work’s intent.
Noted for his paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography, performance and installations, Toguo addresses persistent and contemporary issues of borders, exile and displacement, which have in recent years escalated to unbelievable levels.
Through poetic and often figurative gestures that link nature with the human body, his foregrounds underline ecological and societal implications. In recent years, his works have been informed by political and social movements and humanitarian tragedies around the globe.