The Indigo Summer show opens Wednesday July 23, 2014 with a reception at Atelier Courbet, 175/177 Mott Street, New York City. Guests are invited to meet Aboubakar Fofana and obtain insight into his artistic inspiration and the integrity of the techniques that he investigates through his work. An indigo tent stands as the focal point of the exhibition complemented with a variety of home-ware and lifestyle pieces including bedding, scarves, blankets, throws and tapestries.
Aboubakar Fofana was born in West Africa but has spent most of his life in France. He divides his time between France and his atelier in Bamako, Mali. Here, with his small team of artisan craftspeople, he produces modern textiles, home wares and artworks using traditional techniques and materials.
Fofana was for many years a respected and widely exhibited calligrapher, artist and graphic designer when he felt increasingly drawn to the continent of his birth. He began to explore the ancient technique of indigo dyeing, having remembered stories of "the green leaves that made blue" from childhood visits to the West African countryside. Through many years of reading, exploration and practice, he pieced together a method for producing indigo dye from crushed leaves through a fermentation process. Similar techniques had existed in West Africa for thousands of years but had disappeared within a generation after the introduction of chemical dyestuffs.
Fofana is committed to the revitalization of the pure indigo and mud-dyeing savoir-faire, along with maintaining other West African traditional textile techniques and materials, such as the organic Malian cotton, which he most favors. He is at the forefront of a revival of West African cottage industry crafts. Fofana’s work is unique in the respect that he is able to translate between two cultures, West African and Western, using the traditional techniques and materials of West Africa to produce pieces that transcend their origins whilst still speaking their African heritage.
The indigo master is equally committed to the use of chemical-free techniques at every step of fabrication from the raw material of the textile to the dyeing processes in his atelier. With equal commitment to the preservation of the eco-system at the core of his work, Aboubakar uses the spent dyestuffs to fertilize crops. He scours the world for fine textile that are 100% handmade and organic with a preference for cotton, indigenous to Mali that is first spun by hand before being woven on a strip-loom and sewn together in the traditional way.
Fofana's indigo dye vats differ from other indigo techniques in that they are alive, teeming with natural bacteria that remove the oxygen from the vats and create a chemical reaction that allows the indigo molecules to oxidize onto the cloth. Giving birth, growing and maintaining these indigo cultures is an ongoing and painstaking study. The indigo masters learn how to nurture and feed the cultures; harnessing the perfect conditions to enable the indigo dyeing agents to multiply and grow over different birth and life cycles. Having reached a sought-after ‘know-how’. Fofana has proven to be able to maintain an indigo vat for up to 11 months before the bacteria reach the end of their lifecycle and can no longer give their force to the dye vat.
The luminescent shades of Fofana's indigo textiles are not achievable by any other dyeing method. Real indigo is absolutely colorfast; it will outlive the cloth that it has colored. The young, fresh indigo vats produce saturated deep blues. While the old vats that near the end of the indigo culture’s lifecycle, produce the ethereal icy baby blues and pale luminous tones.
Aboubakar Fofana is part of Atelier Courbet’s ongoing exhibition program highlighting the work and legacy of the world's most revered manufacturers and master-craftsmen who each carries-on time-honored techniques and our cultural heritage through their respective savoir-faire. The New York showroom presents engaging events hosted by the masters with aims to connect the customers with the detailed making processes and inspire appreciation for the life-long commitments of the meticulous hands behind every piece presented at the shop.
175/177 MOTT ST. NEW YORK NY 10012
TELEPHONE: 212 226 7378
MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY
OPENING HOURS: 10AM-7PM