March 2011, Ivory Coast was once again plunged into civil war.
The incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo clung to power despite
losing a general election and rebel forces stormed towns and cities
attempting to oust him. As the militias clashed, a 26 year old
artist, Aboudia Abdoulaye Diarrassouba, remained in the blood
soaked Ivorian capital of Abidjan. There he painted and sketched
a record of the chaos and violence surrounding him; from the armed
forces which skirmished on the streets to the tags children scrawled
on walls to delimit turf.
then, Aboudia was acclaimed for his canvases which documented
the battle for Abidjan. In June of the same year he exhibited
for the first time in London and his work is now included in the
major international collections, in particular the Contemporary
African Art Collection (CAAC), of Jean Pigozzi, the Frank Cohen
Collection, in London as well as the Saatchi Collection, in New
has been exhibiting in Europe and in the USA and was invited to
take part in a conference organised by the Goethe-Institut in
South Africa on the role of art in time of war. Together with
other artists from the Ivory Coast he participated in the Biennial
of Contemporary African Art in Dakar, Senegal.
Abdoulaye 's large format canvases are populated by frightening
skull-like faces with popping eyes and gaping mouths which whirl
and recede amidst impasto brush strokes recalling the expressive
qualities of Jean-Michel Basquiat. The claustrophobia and fear
of being hemmed in to a city at war with itself is palpable, and
these canvases are a striking reminder of the power of art.