Frieze: How Abdoulaye Konaté Knits Together West African Cultural Heritage

For ‘Symphonie au Kente’ (Symphony of Kente), Abdoulaye Konaté has merged two rich, long-standing textile traditions from Ghana and his native Mali. This is an unlikely pairing: although located in the same region, the two nations do not share a language or a political system, and travel between both countries often requires patience with knotty flight connections. Konaté’s new works (all 2020) collage woven, cotton-based Kente cloth – an item of proud Ghanaian heritage – into large-scale canvases in tie-dye and metallic finishes that are traditional in Mali. Centuries ago, the thriving Ghanaian empire extended to parts of present-day Mali; in ‘Symphonie au Kente’, Konaté imagines what might have been possible materially if there had been a greater cross-pollination of textile traditions.