African Art Beats | Souleymane Konaté Yeleen (Light)

By Editorial Team on March 7, 2022

Sat, 12 March 2022 - Fri, 01 April 2022

Souleymane Konaté, Bâtôgôma (Mother) (2022), Acrylic on canvas, 351/2 x 27 1/5 in

African Art Beats, a contemporary art gallery dedicated to artists from Africa and its diaspora, showcases Ivorian visual artist Souleymane Konaté’s latest work in the exhibit Yeleen (Light) which will run March 12 to 13, 2022. The artist will be present. The exhibition has been extended to April 1, 2022.

About Soul’s Approach and the Exhibit
Energetic, spontaneous, and free-flowing, Souleymane Konaté’s paintings break from conventional perceptions of what images and appearances are supposed to be. The hybrid characters that animate his work resemble aliens, bendable and colorful. Part human, part animal and part vegetal, they are born from Soul’s vivid imagination, an imagination fed by his community’s (the Bambara) cosmogony — where the first human was born from the branch of an acacia tree — as well as by the work of Leonardo da Vinci, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Picasso, and Dali. They showcase that beauty is not in the physical but in our inner qualities and values and illustrate the artist’s quest to bring out the best in all of us.

“Soul”, as Souleymane likes to be known, 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 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 cheerful and thought-provoking compositions remain harmonious and balanced. Soul also sculpts his trademark creatures in wood.

About the Artist
Souleymane Konaté was born in 1983 in Côte d’Ivoire; he lives and works in Abidjan, the capital. Soul loved drawing from the youngest age. As a teen-ager, 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 has exhibited in Abidjan, Dakar, Marrakech, Paris, and Washington DC. In 2020, he received the First Prize of the Contemporary Art Young Talents Competition of Côte d’Ivoire. His work is featured in the collection of HM Mohamed V, King of Morocco.

About African Art Beats
African Art Beats is a gallery of contemporary art founded in 2019 in Washington DC. Its aim is to connect art lovers as well as new and seasoned art collectors across the globe with curated works from some of the finest emerging and established artists from Africa and its diaspora.

African Art Beats’ core mission is to introduce audiences locally and nationally to contemporary African art, to showcase the dynamism, imagination and resourcefulness of the artists it represents, and to share the universal messages conveyed through their work – messages that resonate with us, regardless of our background or walk of life.

Souleymane Konaté’s exhibit Yeleen runs from Saturday, March 12 to Sunday, March 13, 2022, from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

The exhibit is on view during opening hours or by appointment.

The gallery is in Cleveland Park in Northwest DC. To schedule a visit, please call the gallery at 202 766 2608, contact us through, or reach out at Masks are required and all Covid-19 CDC protocols are being followed.