Abdoulaye Konaté receives the title of Doctor Honoris Causa in Cuba
The internationally renowned Malian artist Abdoulaye Konaté, born in 1953 in Diré, Mali, has received the honorary title of Doctor Honoris Causa in Art from the Institut Superior of Plastic Arts in Havana (ISA).
The leading figure of the contemporary art scene in Mali and Africa, Abdoulaye Konaté had the great privilege of having a ceremony dedicated entirely to him in Cuba to receive the prestigious distinction. The ceremony, part of the official programme of the XIII Biennale of Havana, was presided by Kenelma Carvajal Pérez, Deputy Minister of Culture and Alexis Seijo García, Rector of the Institution. The special event was held in the Aula Magna of the centre, in the presence of the highest members of the Malian diplomatic corps accredited to Cuba. Important leaders, professors, curators, artists, critics and journalists who make up the Cuban institutional art system were also invited to attend.
With this high distinction awarded to Abdoulaye Konaté, the University of Arts of Cuba wanted to highlight the entire career, but also the commitment of the visual artist to the development of the arts on the African continent. A personal engagement that is illustrated in particular by his status as founder of the Balla Fasséké Kouyaté Conservatory of Multimedia Arts and Crafts in Mali. The Cuban University was also able to celebrate through this honorary title the very friendly relationship that has been maintained with the artist for many years.
After his degree in visual arts at the National Institute of Arts of his native country, Abdoulaye Konaté studied from the late 1970s to the early 1980s his specialization in visual arts in the classes of the renowned Superior Institute of Plastic Arts in Havana (former National School of Arts founded by Fidel Castro, now University of the Arts).
For this reason, after receiving his honorary doctorate, Abdoulaye Konaté thanked the university for providing him with the intellectual and material resources he needed to train. The artist then called Cuban artists Antonio Vidal, Nelson Domínguez, Maria Magdalena Campos Pons, as well as the exhibition curator José (Pepe) Fernández, as witnesses to this sharing of knowledge and experience.
For Abdoulaye Konaté, it was essential to listen the teachings of the famous Cuban painter Wifredo Lam (1902-1982), who was able to teach him everything he needed to develop his art in Africa. A continent that continues to feed the narratives and reflections of its works, and whose issues are the subject of its major concerns (AIDS, war, human rights, globalization, ecological damage,…).
In Cuba, where he studied, he also acknowledges having learned the best use of silence and deep regard in front of a artwork, as well as the need to give more value to moral integrity, tolerance and respect for the other. In his speech of thanks, he expressed his awareness that culture is the DNA of peoples and that abandoning it would imply putting oneself at the service of others. He therefore called for constant government support for cultural development, thanking Cuba once again for the training of so many African intellectuals and for having contributed to the final liberation of several African peoples, before concluding: “Africa can and must help Cuba”.
Abdoulaye Konaté received with his honorary doctorate a work by the eminent Cuban painter Santiago Rodríguez Olazabal. Many praises for his work and person were also addressed to the respected professor of the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Havana, Dr Lázara Menéndez.
Finally, to close the solemn act, the Dutch artist Torvvard Jorgensen, invited to the creative exercises of the Indagar lo propio educational programme (currently organised as part of the XIII Biennale of Havana by the University of Arts) performed one of his brilliant sound performances with his theremin, an instrument that uses the electromagnetism of the human body to transmit music.