Aboudia,  Untitled Tête , 2014, courtesy of Jack Bell Gallery

Aboudia, Untitled Tête, 2014, courtesy of Jack Bell Gallery


Aboudia’s unhinged imagination gives way to a world in which images, signs, and gestures are coded into ambiguity. His deceptively crude paintings are in fact typologies of an African identity. They emerge out of the fractional divisions of ethnic, tribal and religious tensions that have come to characterise Africa’s dichotomous political landscape. Techniques of juxtaposition and overlay, result in an intense remix of painterly language and vernacular culture that owe little to popular reference, despite their apparent familiarity. A cosmopolitan artist, Aboudia takes the chaos of modern life as his primary source, conjuring scenes of a reality animated by dreams and stalked by nightmares.

Born in a country in which war has been a process, rather than a series of events, the Ivorian artist has known the unpredictability and devastation of civil unrest. Aboudia’s painterly observations of lively child-like figures (Untitled Tete, 2014) allude to the artist’s on-going encounters with an urban youth displaced by war. Rooted in the mobilisations of violent groups over a long history, child abductions continue to centre the focus of the international media. Their characterful representation in Aboudia’s many paintings is one of symbolic value, each bearing the compelling directness of the artist’s visual expression.

Wide eyes, teeth clenched, with long necks supporting their bulbous heads, they suggest caricatures of tribal sculptures without discernable features. For Aboudia, the historical rapture of war is analogous with the disappearance of African history and cultural artifacts under colonial rule. The tension between the so-called ethnographic subject and the state of the human condition emerge from a layering of collage and symbolic mapping. A recent collaboration with the late conceptual artist and philosopher Frederic Bruly Bourabre, known for his linguistic and numerical drawings, has ignited Aboudia’s interest in the potential of a universal symbolism, both artists united in their quest to find meaning in an environment defined by chaos and disorder.

Pangaea II: New Art from Africa and Latin America © Osei Bonsu, 2014