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Arts of Africa

At the MFAH, art from the diverse continent of Africa spans ancient to contemporary times and includes the world's most significant collection of gold objects: the Glassell Collection of African Gold.

© Coulibaly Siaka Paul
Dancing Man and Woman
from the series "Clubs of Bamako"
Polychromed wood

63 x 25 x 27 inches
67 x 25 x 25 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gifts of Nina and Michael Zilkha

Arts of Africa

Sculptor Coulibaly Siaka Paul, a great portrait artist, works from live subjects, historical models, and photographs. In 1998 he supervised the sculptural component of the Clubs of Bamako project. This remarkable installation commemorates a unique era of exuberant hope in post-colonial West Africa. It grew out of preparations surrounding a solo show of photography by Malick Sidibé at Deitch Projects, New York, in 1999. While discussing the exhibition, an idea was proposed: that the installation also feature a life-size sculptural tableau to enliven the gallery space. Siaka Paul was invited to respond to Sidibé’s work.

Sidibé’s photographs, produced in the 1960s through the mid-1970s, captured the parties and informal clubs around Bamako where rock and roll had become the soundtrack of freedom. Here, the popularity of rock music had everything to do with the opening up of post-colonial Malian society to Western customs and the energy of youth. The Clubs of Bamako tableau presents this moment of cultural hope with an inordinate quality of physical immediacy, heightened by the tension between stasis and motion, between historical photographs and physically immediate sculptures.