5 Questions about Artist Abdoulaye Konaté

Feb 13, 2023

It’s no exaggeration when I say that as I turned into an aisle at Art Miami, I stopped dead in my tracks as my eyes fell on this piece by Mali-born artist, Abdoulaye Konaté:

So, I ducked into the booth and approached Daniele at Primo Marella Gallery, as I just had to find out more about the talent behind these works that suddenly surrounded me. He told me that Abdoulaye studied painting at the Institut National des Arts in Bamako and then at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba. He is the founder and General Director of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers Multimédia Balla Fasseké Kouyaté in Bamako, Mali, where he also lives and works. Naturally, I had more questions…

What inspires Abdoulaye Konaté to create art and how is this reflected in his artistic approach?

For this West African artist, creating art reflects the fascinating and unique Koredouba outfits that can be found in both the Senufo milieu as well as Mali's Segou region. The technique used by the Mandingo hunters to construct these garments involves tearing up pieces of fabric before attaching various objects including cellphones, bottles, glasses - even items most would consider garbage! They are incredibly symbolic since they absorb everything society casts away or deems unworthy, transforming it into something beautiful. In wearing them with such pride and confidence they are creating an intermediary to break down societal divisions - no matter their age, class or status, everyone can come together through this artistic approach.

What does Abdoulaye’s work aim to say?

Abdoulaye works on two main lines. On one side, he seeks beauty and expression in colors, new forms of balance and compositions to create captivating visuals. Meanwhile, on the other side, he focuses on highlighting the many issues that plague modern society like religion tensions, warfare conflict, health disparities and systemic injustice - using vibrant palettes as powerful tools for expressionism with thought provoking messages carried within them!

How has Abdoulaye’s approach and process changed over time? 

Abdoulaye ventured into the world of textiles in the 90's, enthralled by their potential. Initially experimenting with acrylics alongside fabrics as an accompaniment to his work, he gradually discovered how this material could be used just like paints or watercolors – a powerful new way for him to express himself.

Today Abdoulaye runs a creative team of 5 experienced sewers and embroiderers - some of whom have worked with him for over 20 years. They understand his eye for detail, from the finishing touches to re-creating what he's asked them to make. Now every element is made in-house by his close crew, resulting in truly special pieces worthy of admiration.

Abdoulaye is determined to keep pushing the boundaries of textile design and craftmanship. He has already studied traditional techniques from places like Vietnam, Thailand, China and Japan; but his ambition doesn't end there! There are still so many exciting possibilities left to explore in the field - with himself as an artist and alongside artisans around the world. Abdoulaye's story promises a future full of innovative textiles born out of collaboration between countries on this vast continent.

What lessons did Abdoulaye learn along the way of forging a successful career as an artist?

Through his work, Abdoulaye strives to keep the messaging clear and focused. His journey taught him the importance of being heard and understood, rather than changed. It is essential to look beyond what you want to gain a better understanding; focusing on finding essence in his work makes for sharp expression that won't get lost even if perspectives are different. Social themes remain closest at heart, with clarity shining through no matter how complex it might seem!

What advice could be given to African students considering the field of art?

Abdoulaye believes this generation must adopt new techniques and learn the classic, academic skills that have been mastered elsewhere. By focusing on technical mastery, knowledge of objects and anatomy - along with staying up-to-date on evolving trends - these creatives can shape an incredible future for themselves!

He also believes that there is a disconnect between those with deep cultural knowledge and these young artists - which could potentially be addressed if barriers were removed for these elders so they can freely pass on their wisdom. It's important because many members from families capable of teaching this valuable learning mechanism are dying out. By doing this we can ensure African cultural richness will not fall into obscurity – helping keep roots alive.

Finally, Abdoulaye stresses the importance of mastering cutting-edge digital techniques, which opens up a ton of possibilities not just for artists - but across all industries. Understanding this "universal language" can help link us to others in an easily accessible way and make sure professionals are always ahead of the curve when it comes to industry trends.

Please find out more about Abdoulaye Konaté here.