Abdoulaye Konaté (b. 1953, Diré, Mali) is an artist who lives and works in Bamako, Mali. He is the recipient of many awards including: Officier de l’Ordre National du Mali (2009); Prix Passeport – Créateurs sans Frontiéres (2008); Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mali (2002); Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française (2002). His work primarily takes the form of textile-based installations that explore socio-political and environmental issues, while also showcasing his aesthetic concerns and formal language. He questions the way in which societies and individuals, both in Mali and beyond, have been affected by factors such as war, the struggle for power, religion, globalization, ecological shifts, and the AIDS epidemic.
Konaté draws on the West African tradition of using textiles as a mode of communication and commemoration. Employing material native to Mali – namely, woven and dyed cloths that are sewn together – Konaté creates large-scale abstract and figurative compositions. His referral to a localized cultural technique is then astutely realigned to correspond with a wider geopolitical framework, the material acting as an intercessor between local and global structures.
The two compositions presented for EVA International 2016 take the form of one of Konaté’s iconic textile works. These sumptuous pieces from the ‘butterflies series’ are animated by his technical virtuosity and love of colour. The theme of this series recalls the recent anniversaries of the independence of most of the countries on the African continent, and how fragile these states still are post-independence. The image of the butterfly ties in with this fragility. The butterfly also represents the power of transformation and metamorphosis. Its metaphorical value is Konaté’s answer to the curatorial commitment of this biennial edition to explore, face to face, the complexity of the postcolonial condition of Ireland.