Born in Mali and raised in France, Aboubakar Fofana is a multidisciplinary artist and designer whose working mediums include calligraphy, textiles, and natural dyes. He is known for his efforts to reinvigorate, redefine and preserve West African textile and indigo dyeing techniques.
Aboubakar began his artistic journey with calligraphy, which lead him to wonder about traditions similar to this in Africa and to learn about natural textile dyeing. His work stems from a profound spiritual belief that nature is divine and that through respecting this divinity we can understand the immense and sacred universe. Aboubakar uses raw materials from the natural world, and his working practice revolves around the cycles of nature, the themes of birth, decay and change, and the impermanence of these materials.
The innate qualities and limitations of the organic materials that Aboubakar uses inform every aspect of his process. His work with textiles is the culmination of decades worth of work and effort put forth into learning to create in harmony with the world. His scarves, pillows, and shawls beautifully embody his spiritual beliefs concerning nature and conscious attempts to respect it, as his dyes contain no chemicals and are created with the utmost care.
Aboubakar is currently deeply involved in creating a farm in conjunction with the local community in the district of Siby, Mali, in which the two types of indigenous West African indigo will be the centerpiece for a permaculture model based around local food, medicine, and dye plants. This project hopes to contribute to the rebirth of fermented indigo dyeing in Mali and beyond and represents Aboubakar’s greatest project to date.