Artist spotlight: Aboudia

01.07.2014

We are pleased to highlight another young discovery of ours that has been gaining rapid acclaim, Ivorian native Aboudia.

Aboudia, 'Untitled', 2013 (detail)Aboudia, 'Untitled', 2013 (detail)

Aboudia’s work first received worldwide acclaim with his poignant public testimony of the civil war on the Ivory Coast in 2011. Following the escalation of violence in reaction to the electoral chaos in the city of Abidjan, Aboudia was forced to take refuge in an underground safe house where he found solace in painting. Despite the success of this body of work, Aboudia prefers to define himself as a cosmopolitan artist, constantly moving between worlds and cultures. This ever increasing ideal of being present in the world rather than pigeon-holed as a ‘war artist’, forms the rhetoric of Aboudia’s work, whether in multilingual collages, on walls covered with torn posters, or within the lines created by pastels and acrylics. 

Aboudia, 'Untitled' (from the war series), 2011Aboudia, 'Untitled' (from the war series), 2011

Aboudia began his career as a street artist, creating literal and figurative work rooted in the concrete world and reinforced by the mural artwork training he received as a young man at the Technical Centre of Applied Arts in Bingerville. Much against the advice of his parents and teachers, Aboudia left the walls of Abidjan behind to focus on the canvas, forging a career as a fine artist. His principle inspiration though remains the streets of his childhood. Aboudia’s paintings are reminiscent of charcoal drawings on the walls of houses in the village where he grew up, designs on matchboxes, advertisements outside hairdressing shacks, graffiti tags and of course the songs and colors of Nouchi - the underground language of the street.

Aboudia, 'Untitled', 2013Aboudia, 'Untitled', 2013

Aboudia creates for his audience. His multi layered paintings engulf the viewer with deep colors, lines and imagery that force a continuous discourse between himself, his work and the audience. As a painter he is overwhelmed by a desire to communicate life, which is foremost a result of a childhood raged by war and the legacy of turmoil which his generation inherited. The result of his experience in Abidjan is translated into visceral paintings that are universal and speak to an audience far outside of the turmoil of Africa.

As well as exhibiting internationally, Aboudia’s work has been shown extensively in Africa. He contributed to the giant fresco adorning the wall of Abidjan’s Palais de la Culture; in 2009 held his first solo exhibition at the French-Guinean Cultural Center in Guinea-Conakry and that same year his paintings were included in the group exhibition ‘Arkadi’ run by the French Cultural Centre in Abidjan. Since the summer of 2011, Aboudia has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions and attended a conference on the role of art in wartime in South Africa, by invitation of the Goethe Institute. He also participated with other Ivorian artists at an event in conjunction with the Dak'art Biennale in Senegal.

We first encountered Aboudia's work in 2013 at the inaugural edition of the African art fair ‘1-54’ held in London. We acquired our first two works from Cecile Fakhoury Gallery in Abidjan and later acquired a painting from the ‘War Series’ from Jack Bell Gallery.

Installation Shot, 'Pangea: New Art from Africa and Latin America', Saatchi Gallery 'Pangea: New Art from Africa and Latin America', Saatchi Gallery 

Soon after our acquisitions, Aboudia was featured prominently at the Saatchi Gallery's acclaimed 'PANGEA' exhibition still on view in London. It wasn't long before a couple of paintings by him were included in Bonham’s ‘Africa Now’ auction and garnered much interest, already demonstrating a strong increase in prices. To learn more about Aboudia and his practice watch this insightful video brought to us by Ethan Cohen Fine Arts, his representative gallery in New York.

For more information visit Aboudia's artist's page.

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