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In 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.

Since 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 York.

Aboudia 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.

Aboudia 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.

source: DAZED

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