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. Thiémoko 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 and Heterosis.
Selected Exhibitions & Collections
Solo exhibitions (selection)
2020 “Heterosis” Kloser Contemporary Art, Online
2019 “Anatopia” Kloser Contemporary Art, Online & Brussels
2018 Cécile Kerner Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
2017 Cécile Kerner Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
2016 “Dolce Vita” in situ Fresco at the Paris Match Summer Night, Belgium
2014 Mural Painting “The Coronation of Aeolus”, Brussels, Belgium
2014 “Way to Happiness” at Parfum d’Ambre Le Châtelain, Brussels, Belgium
2014 Espace 27 Septembre, Molenbeek Art Tour, Brussels, Belgium
2013 “Art is a Gift” at Maria-Clara Art Point Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
2013 “The Disjointed Tales” at Molenbeek Centre Communautaire Maritime, Brussels, Belgium
2012 “Half-Closed” at Maison des Cultures de Molenbeek, Brussels, Belgium
2010 Tag Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
2010 « Millenium Development Goals » at Centre International pour la Ville, l’Architecture et le Paysage – and at Théâtre Molière, Brussels, Belgium
Group exhibitions (short selection)
2020 Maison de Force, Strasbourg, France
2019 BISO, Biennale Internationale de Sculpture de Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
2019 « Polarité » with Soly Cissé, Dimitri Fagbohun and Dati Bendo at the Boondael Chapel, Brussels, BE
2014 « Showcasing in Belgium » at the Belgian Embassy in L.A., USA
2011 “Stripping” at Dérapages Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
2009 « L’Un vers l’Autre » with Aimé Mpane at the Cultural Center of Ottignies, Belgium
Molenbeek Museum, Brussels, Belgium
Fondation Gandur pour l'Art, Geneva, Switzerland
The Pas-Chaudoir Collection of Contemporary Art from Africa and the Diaspora, Antwerp, Belgium