Abu-Bakarr Mansaray

(Sierra Leone/Netherlands) b.1970

Lives and works in Harlingen, the Netherlands

Abu-Bakarr Mansaray was born in Sierra Leone, a country in western Africa that suffered from civil war during the 1990s. After quitting school in his teens, Mansaray taught himself practical science and engineering, while also devoting himself to a widely adopted technique in central Africa: manufacturing decorative objects or toys with wire and iron. These two factors greatly influenced his works. He is “an artist making creations without limitation… doing drawings, paintings and sculptures… He also invents machines for his own use at home and sometimes for other people.”

Mansaray’s creations particularly focus on unusual yet sophisticated drawings and machines based on his scientific background. His preparatory drawings, created by pencil, ballpoint pen or crayons, seem to be blueprints, but they can be regarded as the characteristics of his artwork, as evidenced in the works shown at the Taipei Biennial 2014. There is no doubt that the conflicting, warring circumstances of Sierra Leone play an influential role in shaping Mansaray’s creative imagination and futuristic point of view. Even though his works, to some extent, bear witness to the horrors of war, it is still evident that Mansaray attempts to express the power of creation.

Mansaray has participated in such international exhibitions as: Marrakech Art Fair, Marrakech (2010); Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York (2010); Africa? Una nuova storia, Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome (2009-2010); Why Africa ?, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin (2007-2008); 100% Africa, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao (2006-2007); African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection, National Museum of African Art, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, and the Museum of Fine Art Houston (2005-2006); Arts of Africa, Grimaldi Forum, Monaco (2005).

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