Abdoulaye Konaté (Malian, born 1953) 'Generation Biométrique' no. 5 (2008- 2013)

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Lot 10*
Abdoulaye Konaté
(Malian, born 1953)
'Generation Biométrique' no. 5 (2008- 2013)

Sold for £ 31,250 (US$ 42,764) inc. premium
Abdoulaye Konaté (Malian, born 1953)
'Generation Biométrique' no. 5 (2008- 2013)
signed and dated 'A. Konaté 2008' (lower right); bears label with artist signature (verso)
317 x 227cm (124 13/16 x 89 3/8in).


  • Provenance
    Primo Marella Gallery, Milan, Italy.

    Berg en Dal, Holland, Afrika Museum, Abdoulaye Konaté: The World in Textile, November 2013 - March 2014.

    I. Hubner, W. Welling, J. Busca & R. L. Sozzi, Abdoulaye Konaté: The world in Textile exh. cat., (Berg en Dal ,2013) illustrated p.76.

    Abdoulaye Konaté was born in Dire, Mali in 1953 and studied painting in Bamako (1972- 1976), then at Supérieur des Arts in Havana, Cuba (1978- 1985). Whilst in Cuba, he became acquainted with 'outsider art', in particular the Afro-Cuban artist Wilfredo Lam (1902- 1982), whose surrealist works inspired Konaté with their vision of Caribbean Santería religious practice fused with European Modernism. On his return to Mali, Konaté began to move away from easel painting, and in the 1990s transformed his practice into large-scale, textile focused installation, referred to as 'wall sculptures'. Konaté also began work at the National Museum of Mali, and has since also held posts as Director of the Palais de la Culture, the Rencontres de la Photo de Bamako and the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers Multimedias Balla Fasseké Kouyate.

    "All my work is informed by my culture. I worked for 20 years with the National Museum of Mali and this helped me towards a deeper understanding of my cultural and linguistic heritage. I use this knowledge to develop that artistic and aesthetic elements of my work."

    The artist begins his making process by sketching his ideas, from there his studio begins to make the work to full scale; working on the floor and progressing horizontally, much like an Aboriginal dot painting. Applique is often employed with varying fabrics to create a relief, these fabrics are predominantly cotton based.

    Textiles are exceptionally important to the history and culture of the African diaspora. Fabric has symbolic value within many African belief systems, but it is also of great economic significance in the trade between Africa and Europe. Both of these traditions find expression and deconstruction in Konaté's work. Critics have cited the Malian hunting tunic of the Mandé as a primary influence of Konaté's wall sculptures. The textile is believed to render the wearer with unique powers to evade danger, this power is granted with the hanging of amulets and charms from the tunic, called Gris-Gris.

    The early work Hommage aux chasseurs du mande (1995) with randomly dispersed ornaments on a dyed background mark the artist's initial exploration into material traditions. This would prove a pivotal time in Konaté's career, he was awarded the Leopold Sedar Senghor Prize at the Dak'Art Biennale in Dakar in 1996. As Konaté developed his textile works, he became less and less interested in aesthetically echoing the hunting tunic, but instead focused on more abstract quotation of its history, structure and meaning. The form of the wall sculptures become much more aligned with the strict geometric practice of early Modernist aesthetics. Gris-Gris Blancs (no 2b) and the current lot Generation Biometrique, both completed in 2013, possess white accumulations of small, neat fabric parcels, symmetrically attached to the fabric; they appear almost ritually sewn onto the fabric in an efficient manner of 'portable altars' imbuing the work with magic.

    However, whilst Gris-Gris Blancs focuses on the ornamentation of the shamanic ritual, the current work incorporates the fabric of the mystical within a wider socio-cultural context. Joelle Busca writes of Generation Biometrique that it falls within one of three main themes of Konaté's oeuvre: '[the] transforming definition of Geopolitics'. The series is a critical examination of global environmental policy, that has long reaching effects for individual countries, and Africa as a whole. Konaté deals with globalisation as something that exiles and destabilises.

    The focus of this piece is the on-going discussions around African émigrés in Europe. Completed in 2013, Generation Biometrique foreshadows the current media coverage of the horrific conditions suffered by African migrants attempting to enter the EU. This work is no. 5 of a series with the same title. Generation Biometrique refers to generalised government methods of processing immigrants on arrival in the EU, whereby everything about their biology is logged and recorded as information belonging to the state. A gesture whereby a person is stripped of their individuality and treated as an object to be catalogued according to generic categorisations such as: skin colour, height, weight, eye colour etc.

    Broadly, Konaté's examination of the immigration process is a comment on our generation's increasing comfort with the tracking, and gathering of personal data by the state and global corporations. In 2012, both the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal, and the Stedelijk, Amsterdam, acquired works by Konaté. The same year he was included in the group exhibition, Hollandaise organised by the Stedeljik and curated by Koyo Kuoh. In 2007 Konaté was included in Documenta 12 and the Africa Remix international tour that travelled to Centre Pompidou, Paris and Hayward Gallery, London.

    I. Hubner, W. Welling, J. Busca & R. L. Sozzi, Abdoulaye Konaté: The world in Textile exh. cat., (Berg en Dal ,2013).
    C. Spring, 'Abdoulaye Konaté' in Angaza Afrika African Art Now, (London 2008) pp.164-167.
Abdoulaye Konaté (Malian, born 1953) 'Generation Biométrique' no. 5 (2008- 2013)
Abdoulaye Konaté (Malian, born 1953) 'Generation Biométrique' no. 5 (2008- 2013)
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