Artist Abdoulaye Konaté speaks to the street in Iniva's fifth annual window commission this December. He reflects on the relationship in Africa between power and religion - the position of Christianity and Islam within political and cultural life. Comm
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. 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 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 âthe 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.
In 2008 Konaté was nominated for the Artes Mundi Prize. Other recent exhibitions include Documenta 12, 2007 and Africa Remix, Contemporary Art of a Continent in 2005 at the Hayward Gallery, London.
Past artists who have created work for Rivington Place's window include Philomena Francis who used piped black treacle in her artwork mo'lasses III to raise questions about identity and viewing the black female body, and most recently Nilbar Güres' Beekeeper, a photographic composition examining representations of femininity and cultural identity.
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