JAC highlights and compares Ivorian avant-garde artists in a new exhibition | Arts and life
JAMESTOWN, RI – Despite being born 60 years apart, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré and Abdoulaye Diarrassouba – better known by his professional name, Aboudia – are considered to be the best and most influential Ivorian artists of the postcolonial period. While the two men came to the art world from different backgrounds – Bouabré through professional training in French colonial government schools and Aboudia in the streets of the city of Abidjan as a graffiti artist – their work sharing common themes, such as a celebration. of their cultures and comments on the times in which they lived and their tribulations in becoming two of their country’s most recognizable artists.
Their works are now juxtaposed in an exhibition organized by New York gallery owner Ethan Cohen entitled “African Avant-Garde: Aboudia and Frédéric Bruly Bouabré”, which is on display at the Jamestown Arts Center until June 26.
“By bringing together the work of these artists, we pay tribute to two African masters of global stature,” said a press release from the exhibition. “Until now, Africa has been largely overlooked as a force on the international art scene. Finally, it earns its place in the global dialogue, and these two artists are at the forefront of this achievement.
The work to bring this exhibit to Jamestown dates back to 2018, when Exhibitions Director Karen Conway first met Cohen.
“He’s really an expert on contemporary Chinese work, and that’s how I really got to know him, but I know he’s interested in amazing artists everywhere, and because of COVID and the issues between the China and the United States, it is really impossible to bring in contemporary Chinese artists. at this time, ”Conway said. “So, talking to Ethan, he said, ‘Well, let me put this proposal together’, and I had heard from Aboudia before, and when they put the proposal together, it was like a must, ”Conway said.
In March, Aboudia became the first artist to hold a solo online auction at Christie’s New York, which only propelled him further into the limelight.
“It really started to skyrocket more and more, so it’s been such an honor to showcase this work,” said Conway.
The show kicked off last Saturday with an outdoor collage workshop in the morning, followed by an afternoon interview with Cohen himself. With the exterior collage, visitors were invited to paint the wall wall behind the JAC in a collage reminiscent of Aboudia’s work with collage and paint to celebrate World Collage Day, which fell on the same date. Visitors are always encouraged to contribute to the wall for the remainder of the exhibit.
For Cohen, respect for these masters of African art is evident, as is his desire to see more people recognize their talents and the talents of artists in a field where they are often overlooked.
“Bouabre’s consciousness emerged when Africa first opened on the world stage as a series of independent postcolonial countries. As such, his work focuses on imagery that explicitly places recognizable African themes and characters in tandem with those from other continents. Its message is both a message of global diversity and unity, ”said Cohen. “Philosopher, visual poet and artist, he iterates universal truths that bind humanity. Very early on, he lived in an era, embodied by the 1955 Bandung Conference of Non-Aligned Asian and African States, when it seemed possible for emerging countries to create another global awakening.
“Aboudia came to the same sense of a global platform decades later, just as the world resumed its commonalities at a post-Cold War moment of digital media convergence,” Cohen added. “As an artist who grew up on the streets, expressing his vision initially through the freedom of graffiti, he matured his culturally site-specific imagery into what is now instantly recognizable across continents for its power and sound. immediacy. He is the heir to Jean-Michel Basquiat’s mantle and undoubtedly the most famous young artist in Africa.
The exhibition is on display until June 26 during the opening hours of the JAC gallery from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., or by appointment, which may be booked by sending an email to [email protected]
The Jamestown Arts Center is located at 18 Valley Street in Jamestown. For more information, visit their website, jamestownartcenter.org.