Souleymane Konaté is a self-taught painter and sculptor.
“Soul,” as he prefers to be called, loved drawing from the youngest age. As a teenager, he roamed the museums, galleries and exhibits of Abidjan, befriended artists, and dabbled in the arts. He trained and worked for a few years as a calligrapher.
In the early 2000s, Soul began to study and practice art on his own, painting in a studio alongside other artists. At the time (2000-2010), a severe socio-political crisis was rocking Côte d’Ivoire, driving him and this generation of artists to break with the past and explore new ways of expression. Emancipating themselves from classical figuration, they focused on bright and warm colors, collage, and other techniques, and chose the urban life around them as a source of inspiration.
Soul’s fantastic hybrid characters take center stage. They are immediately recognizable, with their bulging eyes, “cut-out” mouths and pliable organic shapes. Part human, part animal and part vegetal, they are born from Soul’s vivid imagination, an imagination fed by his community’s (the Bambara) rich cosmogony — where the first human was born from the branch of an acacia tree — as well as inspired by the work of Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Picasso, and Dali. Typically in a group of two or more and intertwined or linked by a ribbon, the subjects exude a sense of cohesion and belonging.
Soul paints with acrylic on canvas. He builds his paintings one layer at a time, using different techniques such as splashing, marbling and collage. His characters are two-dimensional, but depth is created through the juxtaposition of layers. It is further accentuated by details like stars, flowers, points or other symbols of different sizes, visible both on the background and the bodies of the characters themselves. Soul applies vibrant, saturated, and contrasting colors that most would not dare to combine! And yet, his compositions remain harmonious and balanced.
Soul also sculpts his trademark creatures in wood.
Village-Rencontres des Arts Contemporains (VRAC), Salies de Bearn, France
Hotel Onomo, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Dak’Art OFF 13th edition of the Biennale of Contemporary African Art, Dakar, Senegal
Gallery Louis Simone Guirandou, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
BICICI headquarters, Abidjan
Solo exhibition, Gallery Amani, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Creation Workshop and Exhibition organized by the National Association of Visual Arts (ANAP) on the Esplanade of the Hassan II Mosque for the 54th birthday of HM Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, in Casablanca, Morocco
Dak’Art OFF, 12th edition of the Biennale of Contemporary African Art in Dakar, Senegal
Rencontres Internationales de Peinture de Ouagadougou(RIPO), Burkina Faso
ArtCop22, Marrakech, Morocco
Café HENCH, Aschaffenberg, Germany
Camp Militaire Français, 43ème BIMA, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Hotel Palm Rock Beach, San-Pedro, Côte d’Ivoire
Ki-Yi Pan-african Village, Abidjan
Gallery Houkami Guyzagn, Abidjan
International Tourism Fair of Abidjan (SITA)
Peint ‘Art 2015, Abidjan
General Secretariate of the Association for Contemporary Visual Arts in Côte d’Ivoire (AAPC-CI)
Participation to the project IMAGO MUNDI
Abidjan Art Festival, 1rst edition
Abidjan Revel’Art Festival, in Bingerville, Côte d’Ivoire
Masques et Miroirs (Masks and Mirrors), Arkadi, Abidjan
Works with artists in New York and Tucson, USA
Art residency at the 8th edition of the Rencontre Internationale d'Art Contemporain (RIAC) in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
Souleymane Konate was part of the Musée mobile en route pour Dak’Art– 6 weeks on the roads of several West African countries, from Lagos to Dakar, followed by a residency and organized by the Goethe Institut
Creation Workshop organized by the National Association of Visual Arts (ANAP) on the esplanade of the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca on the occasion of the 54th birthday of HM Mohamed V, King of Morocco
Residency at Arkane, Casablanca, Morocco
Assistant and Coordinator for the Nestlé Year Book 2014
First Prize of the 2020 Concours Jeunes Talents - Art Contemporain (Competition Young Talents - Contemporary Art) organized by Société Générale de Côte d'Ivoire
The collection of HM Mohamed VI, King of Morocco