Aboubakar Fofana



Paris, France/Bamako, Mali

Category: Textiles
Location: Africa, Europe

Aboubakar Fofana was born in West Africa but spent many years living and working in France.  His atelier is in Bamako, Mali, where he and his small team of trained artisans produce unique modern textiles using 100% natural processes and ancient indigenous techniques.

As a child in West Africa, Aboubakar Fofana was told about green leaves that made blue colours. Years later, already a successful calligrapher, artist and graphic designer living in France, he remembered this story, and started on a long journey to understand indigo and his African heritage.

The technique of fermented indigo dyeing using whole indigo leaves had already disappeared  from West Africa by the time Fofana first heard about it, replaced by synthetic dyes. Fofana pieced together the technique by reading and asking, and by trial and error. It took many years to understand the process and longer again to master this difficult but unmatchable method of dyeing.  And he is still learning.

His work reflects the living materials he uses, harnessing their cycles of birth, life and decay, and the seasonal rhythms of nature. His indigo vats are alive as well, the colour a visible imprint of these natural cycles, and the most challenging part of his work is understanding and working with the living things to allow these colours to become visible.

He uses fine natural fabrics to take up these colours, with a preference for the luxurious organic Malian cotton, handspun and handwoven, that many of his pieces are made from.

Fofana is dedicated to preserving this tradition of fermented indigo dyeing, along with other West African textile techniques and indigenous materials.  His work has been exhibited all over the world.