Interview // Ibrahim Ballo

Posted by Michaëla Hadji-Minaglou on


Featured in our online exhibition "Origines", Ibrahim Ballo's weaved canvases are easily recognizable. Through the appropriation of traditional Malian weaving, he aims to point out the pains of his society. He told us more about his artistic practice and what weaving means to him. 

Ibrahim Ballo, Les enfants pneus, 2019

Ibrahim Ballo, Les enfants pneus, 2019, 150x150 cm

Acrylic and weave on canvas


What relation do you have regarding traditional weaving? 
Weaving inspires me since my childhood. I used to sit next to my grandmother and watch her weaving. She transformed cotton into threads that were used to make loincloths.

When and why have did start to weave on your canvases? 
I have started to weave on my canvases after my studies. It was a way to convey my messages. For each of my canvases, I start by weaving, then I paint and I sew with threads to create harmony and reach a form of aesthetic. Weaving send us back to our roots, our heritage. It’s like a comeback to the past, which encourages everybody to inspire their traditions. I personally use this tradition to denounce the pains of society.  The use of weaving is also a mean to convey messages. 

What are the messages that you want to convey through your work? 
The use of weaving helps me to convey the message that we all have to be connected. Those links have to be strengthened. This is what you can observe in my work through the use of cotton threads. From a canvas to another, the main message can vary. In my canvas Les enfants pneus, I want to pay a tribute to children. I aim to raise awareness about the importance of their protection and education. In other canvases, as L’homme tissé, I point out violence, shame, betrayal and genocides through the use of the color red. 

For you, what does weaving symbolize? 
Weaving is a way to link people together. Without it, there would not have life nor society. Weaving also explains aesthetics and harmony. This is this aesthetic that I’m looking for to have a harmonized and beautiful society. 

Your characters often seem to be melancholic. Why do they have this expression? 
My characters are in a position of meditation. Through this behavior, I express the different problems, the different wars, genocides, and hardships that we all face in our daily lives. Human being has to think about a solution to these problems. This is what I aim to underline in my canvases through the meditative attitude of my characters.

You use a wide range of blue shades in your canvases. Is there a particular reason? 
Blue is the color of harmony, confidence, and aesthetics. The weaving technique expresses harmony. However, it should be a certain balance between colors and technique. This is why I often use blue in my work. It is to create harmony, a balance between the different subjects, threads, paint, and the background.

What are your sources of inspiration? 
Water is my main source of inspiration. Beyond that, music inspires and encourages me. 


About the exhibition: "Origines", from April 28th to May 25th on