Jan 3, 2012
Zelda Harrison

The Power of Window Dressing

In this 7 metre wide textile work named Grisgris-Blanc, Abdoulaye Konaté reflects on Malian writer Massa Makan Diabaté’s comment, “the guinea fowl spreads out its colours over its plumage and man keeps them in his heart”. Grisgris-blanc merges political commentary and traditional craftsmanship using inspiration from the striking plumage of the Guinea Fowl, famous in Malian tales, legends, theatre and literature. The artist sees this treatment as a commentary on the ambiguous position heads of governments take with respect to religion.
Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) is a leading UK contemporary visual arts organisation which creates exhibitions, publications, multimedia, education and research projects. Malian artist Abdoulaye Konaté was commissioned to produce a new large-scale textile piece for Iniva’s annual window exhibition at Rivington Place, and to communicate Iniva’s mission of global diversity directly to the street.  

Born in Diré, Mali in 1953, Abdoulaye Konaté lives and works in the country’s capital, Bamako. Having trained as a painter, he now works with Malian cotton creating textiles and canvases in response to a lack of availability of other materials. These large expanses of fabric play host to an array of stitched and woven symbols as well as swathes of colour.

The artist’s past work effectively communicates his political concerns: whether highlighting environmental issues such as de-forestation, living under dictatorship, threatened minority groups or human rights issues. Abdoulaye Konaté refuses any notion despair and is an advocate of hope, exploring the human condition through thoughtful and critical expression.

Interested in other work by Abdoulaye Konate? Then look here. Or check out this gallery of African textiles.

XCD thanks Frida Larios for sharing this piece.

Still haven’t had enough? Ok, then, visit GAP

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