SEP 9 - OCT 8




OPENING SAT 09/09 at 19:30



DISKUS will open its doors to the public

every Wednesday from 2-7 PM

every Saturday from 2-7 PM

every Sunday from 2-7 PM

otherwise by appointment

While the artist will be present most weekends during the exhibition,

we have prepared the following special program:

Saturday 09/09 - Special Performance by the artist at 8 PM

Saturday 16/09 - Guided Tours by the artist from 2-7 PM

Sunday 24/09 - Dance Performance by Betina Kashiama at 2 PM

Sunday 01/10 - Art Workshop by the artist at 4 PM

Sunday 08/10 - Closing Cocktail at 5 PM

We are looking forward to welcoming you !


Diepestraat 46

9300 Aalst


Thiemoko Claude Diarra

(Mali / Belgium, 1974)

Born in Mali in 1974, Diarra lived between Bamako, Brussels and Dakar. His father is a Bamana sculptor and his mother was a nurse from Belgium. Thiemoko Claude Diarra sits right at the crossroad of these two cultures, between the sacred art of his ancestors and the heritage of those who advanced Western medical science through the centuries.

His most recent expansive project, Anatopia, is an absurd scientific analysis which brings new life into classical African art. Far from the usual vectors of anthropological, social or cultural studies of traditional African art, Anatopia looks at this immense heritage from an artistic point of view. By surgically dissecting Malian, but also Congolese or Ivorian statues, the artist aims to create an infinite cabinet of curiosities which challenges viewers to think and re-think their understanding of (African) art, like a mirror distorting reality so we may better grasp its reflection.

Diarra’s sculptures, drawings, painted photographs and installations are like a mad cocktail of impressions blended from the improbable encounter between a Baoulé beauty, Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), an anonymous Belgian colonizer and Berlinde de Bruyckere (1964), whose work the artist admires. A protégé of surrealist artist Jean-Michel Folon (1934-2005), Diarra also worked in fashion and started his career by painting tales in miniature on watches and on canvas.

Through an ensemble of artistic series like Bastards, Cultural Shock, Comparative Animism, Lost Power Relics and Vesalius’s Dream, Anatopia appears to be the long-awaited final bridge between classic and contemporary African art. On this bridge, like an explosive modern Nganga (spiritual healer), Thiemoko Claude Diarra creates his visions of Europe and Africa, their past and the future they hold for each other. This artistic communion is further investigated in his most recent series: Hunting Trophies, Heterosis, Trance-Transfer and Refiguration.

SEP 9 - OCT 8  



This first presentation of Diarra’s work in Aalst marks the fifth introduction to his work that I write, our fifth exhibition of his unpredictable creation, for the artistic language of Diarra’s reAnimism is intrinsically limitless, as the artist defines it in his last paragraph below describing his new series titled refiguration.


In this fresh ensemble Thiemoko Claude Diarra once again transgresses a few more codes of artistic traditions, both Western and African. His aim is not chaos, but a fundamental reshuffling of the cards. To break new ground in artistic research, creators must break down walls, even when it seems none of those remain. A true alchemist of our own modern age, Diarra distillates the best of all subworlds into his own offspring of reAnimism, shaping a kaleidoscope he subsequently employs to observe and comment on our raging hybrid world and its endless mutations.

Rather than declining all the chapters of the artist’s Progressive Manifesto of Reappropriation, which describe the common artistic concerns of so many contemporary artists under a new philosophical and technical umbrella, I simply invite you to share a discussion with Thiemoko. His work is the reflection of his soul, an extension of his existence, past, present, and future.

During the exhibition at DISKUS, you will also have a chance to engage in an interactive artist talk which will be co-animated by Karim Elsey, and to enjoy a graceful dance performance titled À la rencontre de moi-même by Betina Kashiama, conceived in dialog with the ensemble of 30 works presented at DISKUS. A workshop destined to youths will also take place, giving the audience the opportunity to create its own artworks.

For now, forget all you know about art. Only remember what art made you feel.

Get ready to play with every notion of creation and the many metaphors these articulate. Diarra will destroy to create anew, he will transform, grow, nurture, sublimate, invade, combine, collide, and consolidate, he will cross-pollinate, all in the hope that diversity prevails through hybridization - a global battlefield of the day it seems.

Take this opportunity to act your own part, for a work of art is nothing without what you offer it.


Do not leave without a few clues to appreciate the artist’s playful riddles. Look for the bubbles as so many metaphors of the fragility of our existence and think of this symbol in continuity of the XVIth century Dutch vanitas tradition. Also, here is my first impression when discovering the refiguration series: if Arcimboldo, Hokusai, Duchamp, and Max Ernst ever had dinner together, Diarra must have been taking some notes. As to the titles Dadaistically reappropriated from important novels, read them as an invitation to look beyond the images, into Afro-descendant (but not exclusively) narratives retracing the historical backgrounds of a myriad of black identities.


Klaus PAS

September 2023



The “re” prefix and figuration


To figure with the prefix "re" is to figure anew, to re-envision what already is an interpretation of the real. In pictorial tradition, to figure is to represent something or someone in a form that evokes the visible world. Classical African art has largely chosen to represent the mystical world in a form that sublimates reality. It is a deferred figuration that encompasses a part of reality in an exalted language. In animism, the notion of figuration holds a special status for the dialogue with ancestors can be conducted through figurative representation, deformity, and through symbols, without forgetting the use of geomancy, geometry, and color, selected according to the meaning they convey. These are all inherited tracks that inspire reAnimist artists.

For reAnimist artists, the energetic and communicative power of the work takes precedence over mere figurative representation. This does not mean that realism or hyperrealism are excluded, but they will always be tributary to a message, a thought, or a mystical energy. The work must be fully inhabited and transcended; it must become the specter of the message, it is there, looking at you and questioning you.



Shapes and colors


Forms, just like colors, pass through this reAnimist filter. Each color carries its unique symbolism, and the shapes are disrupted by graphic-divinatory elements. These elements simultaneously play a role in undermining the figuration. Many figures are so covered with dots, feathers, and white lines that reading the image becomes increasingly complex. The symbolism of colors takes precedence over its figurative reality and its inherent harmony with other colors.

Unlike the tradition of Western classical painting, African classical art fundamentally transgresses form in favor of its content, its meaning or what it expresses. This is the core of an aesthetic pertaining to the indescribable, to the realm of feelings and sensations of the shock it aims to provoke. Beauty is never pursued for the sake of beauty. It is symbiotically achieved through a fundamental agreement between the mystical thought and the object charged with expressing or serving it.

Refiguration is not imitation but rather transfiguration. The object is not a pleasant image to look at, but rather an object capable of capturing the soul, the spirit.

We do not create a mask to hang it in a gallery or a museum and take pleasure in looking at it. The mask has a ritual function, and its purpose is therefore not necessarily to be beautiful.

In one same movement, the reAnimist and refiguration works parasitize classical figurative representation by dressing it up with a crown of mystical ugliness, a derision, dwelling in endless introspections of meaning and form.




Nothing is lost, everything is transformed, as Africa has always done. In the refiguration series, I revisit my European heritage of figurative painting to confront it with the animist universe of my childhood. As part of this dynamic, I do not hesitate to triturate, to partially cover, to superimpose, or to combine with something else, painted or sculpted elements. Figurative representation will have to submit to the need of the spirit that inhabits the work, or to the expressive will of the artist.

For these objects are repurposed language tools that allow access to the inaccessible, to the supernatural. They will vary according to the beliefs that govern the peoples, and the aesthetic preferences that drive them, just as a blank canvas or a block of raw granite cannot be considered a work of art without physical or conceptual interventions. Marcel Duchamp proved it. Naming an object is already intervening on it.

This delicious door to freedom will be the one borrowed by reAnimism, which draws its sources here and elsewhere, yesterday, and today. Art subjugates us, horrifies us, or questions us when it does not simply intoxicate us. Artistic research goes beyond questioning, beyond the profitability and the speed of change of our contemporary society, in favor of the depth and essence of it. These concerns are close to those of animists, and the means to achieve them are limitless.



Thiemoko Claude Diarra

Juin 2023