Malian artist Abdoulaye Konaté merges political commentary and traditional craftsmanship in Iniva’s fifth annual window commission this December. A new large-scale textile work, created especially for the vast window space of Rivington Place, will communicate global diversity issues directly to the street.
In this new work he has drawn on the striking plumage of the guinea fowl as his starting point. He also draws upon its significance south of the Sahara where it appears in tales, legends, theatre and literature.
The artist’s work
Born in Diré, Mali in 1953, 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: be it highlighting environmental issues such as de-forestation, living under dictatorship, threatened minority groups or human rights issues. His response is not one of despair, but one of hope, exploring the human condition through thoughtful and critical expression. Here Konaté is reflecting on Malian writer Massa Makan Diabaté’s comment that ‘the guinea fowl spreads out its colours over its plumage and man keeps them in his heart’ (from The Hairdresser of Kouta). Konaté sees this akin to the ambiguous position heads of governments take with respect to religion.