ivory coast artist paints raw images of conflict
Last Updated : GMT 12:31:48
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Ivory Coast artist paints raw images of conflict

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Ivory Coast artist paints raw images of conflict

Yamoussoukro - AFP

Last year, as the battle over the Ivory Coast\'s presidency raged in Abidjan\'s streets, Aboudia locked himself in his studio and painted images of mangled bodies, ghostly soldiers and child coffins. The 28-year-old painter has risen to fame on the global art scene with his raw depictions of the 10-day battle for Abidjan, the climax of the post-election power struggle between presidential rivals Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo. Some 3,000 people died in the post-poll violence from December 2010 to April 2011, which ended with the battle for the control of Abidjan, the west African nation\'s economic heart and main city. Aboudia -- who prefers to use only one name -- rendered the events in chaotic paintings of torture victims, terrorised civilians crying for help and tanks of UN soldiers being attacked by a mob. \"I just had to grab my brush and write the history as it happened,\" he told AFP. His canvasses are striking for their size -- some are as big as two metres (yards) by four -- their grimy rainbow of colours and for their wild, almost childlike technique. The work contrasts sharply with its artist\'s calm, relaxed disposition. Sitting on an empty can of paint in his studio in Abidjan\'s chic Cocody neighbourhood, one of those caught up in the fighting, Aboudia spoke of growing up in a modest family in the eastern city of Abengourou and coming to Abidjan for art school. \"People told me, \'What are you doing? This stuff is no good, we can\'t sell it, we can\'t exhibit it,\'\" he said, as his pet rabbit hopped about amid the furious output of sketches, drawings and paintings covering his studio. Over time, he developed what he calls \"nouchi\" painting, named for the French argot spoken in Abidjan\'s poorer neighbourhoods. His work echoes the graffiti splashed across the bustling seaside port city of five million people. \"My influences, they\'re in the street. On the walls in neighbourhoods like Treichville, Abobo, Adjame,\" he said, referring to teeming working-class areas. \"You can see what the kids are drawing to express their rage, or their plans, their dreams.\" Aboudia had his first show in Abidjan in 2007. Things moved quickly for him from there, said Yacouba Konate, an art critic who was among the first to herald his work. \"It happened in a flash, everybody loved it, they were pushing all around him to get close,\" said Konate, an art critic who was among the first to herald Aboudia\'s work. But it was the giant paintings of the battle of Abidjan that got the attention of European and American galleries. In the year since, he has had a solo show at London\'s Jack Bell Gallery, sold four works to the prestigious Saatchi Gallery, sent paintings on world tour and bounced from New York to South Africa to Sweden. \"He\'s going to be a great name in African painting in the years to come,\" said his German agent, Stefan Meisel. Aboudia\'s work has drawn inevitable comparisons to Jean-Michel Basquiat. Like the New York prodigy, who died in 1988 at the age of 27, his paintings are violent and political and reference the urban medium of graffiti. But he insists that fundamentally his work has \"nothing to do\" with Basquiat\'s. Konate said Aboudia\'s is \"an urban style of painting that shows Abidjan as revealed by its basically dodgy neighbourhoods.\" \"He\'s a painter who\'s tuned in to his time,\" he said.

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