Fatou Kiné Diakhaté

1967 | Dakar, Senegal

Senegalese painter and designer.

Fatou Kiné Diakhaté was homeschooled by her maternal grandmother in the town of Kaolack. Her taste for art manifested at a very young age: as a child she created her own earrings. She later studied in Dakar, where she earned her baccalaureate in 1983, and quite naturally chose to enrol at the École nationale des arts du Sénégal, albeit against her mother’s wishes. After graduating, she undertook several internships, particularly as a decorator in prestigious agencies such as Mariane Tondut’s Déco-System and the office of architect Pierre Goudiaby Atepa.
In 2000 F. Kiné Diakhaté opened her own studio, Fdéco, sponsored by her mentor, P. Goudiaby Atepa. Fdéco housed a collective of visual artists and gained recognition by developing a modern and colourful style. F. Kiné Diakhaté left a mark in the Senegalese capital, painting murals along the coast and in green spaces. She also decorated the Place du Souvenir africain, the Mosque of Divinity and the Orange stand at the Dakar International Fair in 2012. Her distinctive style made her a staple of local decoration, particularly her wrought-iron tables with glass mosaic tops. She also designed wooden furniture, as well as art objects and jewellery made out of calabashes.

In 2002, thanks to a vast national programme, she designed and decorated several “cases des tout-petits” (“huts for the little ones” – new educational structures) in Dakar and other cities around the country. This experience bolstered her drive to introduce young children to painting, decoration, beadwork and collage. Three years later she received first prize in painting at the painting and photography competition for the inaugural edition of the Kermel en fleurs festival organised by visual artist Kalidou Kassé (b. 1957).
F. Kiné Diakhaté has become well known in women’s social movements, particularly during the awareness campaign surrounding the gender equality bill in 2010 and 2011. Along with five other artists, she supported the Caucus of Female Leaders for gender equality by auctioning some of her paintings. The piece Égalité des chances (Equal opportunities, 2009) was purchased by the Ministry of Women, Family and Childhood. Her abstract canvases, full of intertwined shapes, impart a unique impression and express feelings of feminine sensitivity and human connection. Papier mâché gives depth to her work, while the use of warm tones brings to mind the African continent. Her papier mâché picture Symbole (2009) was acquired by the Senegalese Ministry of Culture in 2012 and is exhibited at the African Renaissance Monument in Dakar.

F. Kiné Diakhaté was chosen to represent Senegal at the first UNESCO World Forum on Culture and Cultural Industries at the Villa Reale in Monza, Italy, from 24 to 26 September 2009, where she exhibited a selection of works from the Fdéco studio. She also regularly takes part in exhibitions. During the 2010 World Cup in Pretoria, South Africa, she was one of the artists represented at the African Village, and her picture Le Bonheur (Happiness, 2010) was purchased by Coca-Cola. From 2004 to 2012 she was featured at every The Dakar Biennale, or Dak’Art, thus contributing to a wider awareness of her work.
Recognition from fellow artists led to F. Kiné Diakhaté being elected general secretary of the country’s network of cultural entrepreneurs in 2013.

Fatou Sow Sarr

Translated from French by Lucy Pons.

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