Alfred Conteh USA, b. 1975

Overview

Alfred Conteh is a painter and sculptor who was born in Fort Valley, GA. His mother is African American, and his father is from Sierra Leone, West Africa. Conteh explores his identity and personal history from a number of different perspectives. 

 

He is concerned with the way African Americans are dealing with disparities that have been affecting their communities for generations, especially in the southern United States. He is also interested in the wider view of the entire African diaspora. 

 

His work spans a range of mediums and materials, and crosses over between figuration and abstraction. His abstract work, such as the series Kin I’m In, makes use of lyricism and natural forms, while also evoking architectonic structures that reference built human environments. Though abstract, these works are rife with symbolism and poetic meaning.

 

Conteh’s figurative work possesses a dreamlike, almost omniscient quality, conveying a sort of inner vision about the subject matter. His series of figurative paintings Two Fronts is grounded in the realm of portraiture. This series explores images of contemporary members of the African diaspora, placing the figures in what are often mundane environments. Conteh’s treatment of the figures, including the way he has them inhabit their surroundings, lends them a wise, gentle, heroic, and spiritual presence.

 

About his Two Fronts series, Conteh has said: “This body of work is a visual exploration of how African diasporal societies in the South are fighting social, economic, educational, and psychological wars from within and without to survive. The honest and false narratives of history embodied in this series are primarily personified in patinated colossuses that commemorate the people, culture, and battles that the populations they tower over have fought and continue to fight. We are at war on two fronts.”

 

Recent major exhibitions of Conteh's work include Alfred Conteh: The Sweet Spot, Clark Atlanta University Art Museum, Atlanta, GA; Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth., Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service; Visions of a Cultural Commentator, curated by Madeline Beck, Cobb Marietta Museum of Art, Marietta, GA; Alfred Conteh, Selected Works, Harriet Tubman Museum, Macon, GA; and 5 Perspectives, Steffan Thomas Museum of Art, Madison, GA. 

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