Soungalo Malé

Soungalo Malé
Soungalo Malé

Malé’s first job was as an assistant to a team of French topographers in the city of San in the South East of Mali. This career came to an end in the 1950s when he discovered photography. Moving to Bamako, Malé initially worked for the great Seydou Keita, before opening the first photography studio in San in 1958. As well as working within this static studio, Malé travelled the countryside with a portable studio and darkroom loaded onto a truck. He would set up a makeshift studio, positioning his sitters sometimes against a wall or a patterned backdrop and take carefully considered portraits, or more candid shots of people at home or work. This movement around the countryside has links with the way in which late 19th and early 20th century photographers in the West would earn a living by travelling to areas where there was no local photographer or to fairs and the seaside, and set up studio for a day or two. Through Malé’s adoption of this itinerant practice, we are able to see images of country people at important moments in their lives from the 1950s onwards.


Born in 1920 in Mali. Died in 2002 in Mali.

Trained with Seydou Keita in Bamako, Mali before opening his own studio in San in 1958.


Martin Barlow, curator of the exhibition Moving Into Space at the National Football Museum talks about the exhibition.

Barthélémy Toguo, Lucy Azubuike and Nnenna Okore, three of the exhibited artists, talk about their work and their interest in using materials which reflect the lifestyle and experience of the people of West Africa.

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Creative Tourist


Nine countries show off their talent as five city venues link up for a summer celebration. Helen Nugent in the Guardian

Street life, dazzling dress, social commentary and a riot of sensuous colour interweave in a rich assembly of West African art, writes Charles Gore in the Times Higher Education