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Mireille Rakotomalala

Joël Andrianomearisoa

1977 - Present

Mireille Rakotomalala

2016
Textile on canvas
146 x 89 cm

This carpet-like artwork is made from coarsely cut cloth in multiple layers. The canvas combines different colours and fabrics, but all are grounded by a solid black section at their base. The proportion of colour to black the work is reminiscent of the colour field painters of the late 1940s, particularly Mark Rothko. As a series, these works collectively also borrow their names from female relatives in the artist’s life and thus can be viewed as abstract portraits.

The fabric used here is lamba, a traditional Malagasy garment, often worn as a shawl or wrap. Each garment is often individual and unique to each wearer, becoming a personal and meaningful article of clothing. During funeral processions and mourning rituals, silk lamba are wrapped around the body of the deceased in multiple layers before burial.

The portrait acknowledges the arch of life to death in which the lamba plays an important role, but also the sentimentalities we attach to artefacts of everyday life. We assign meaning to colour, but can we assign an entire lifetime to a single garment?

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